Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Diet High in Pesticides May Be Poisoning America

[The Epoch Times] Washing fruits and vegetables is not enough to avoid ingesting pesticides. Americans and people all over the world are eating pesticide residue every day, as has been shown by the presence of pesticides in blood and urine samples taken from broad populations.
The health effects could include a greater risk of cancer, reproductive problems, and impaired mental development in children.
Regulators, like the Food and Drug Administration, monitor pesticide residues on foods. However, the levels of residue they consider safe are probably actually harmful, say some scientists. Regulators base their safety assessments on limited studies of individual pesticides. They don’t consider the accumulation in the human body and interactions of various pesticides from multiple sources.
For example, say you eat a little of this pesticide with your strawberries, a little of that pesticide with your honey, and another pesticide with your broccoli. Maybe having one helping of strawberries with one pesticide on them is still within safe parameters. But if you eat a lot of strawberries, maybe you’ll pass that level of safety. 
Or maybe there are multiple pesticides on the strawberries, broccoli, and honey, and it is unknown how those different pesticides interact with each other. The mixture in your body could have a bad effect, like mixed medicines.
Altogether, you could end up with an unsafe level of pesticide exposure.
While eating organic food can reduce exposure to pesticides, it seems nothing is entirely safe; residues have even been found in organic baby food. This may be due to pesticide drift from surrounding conventional farms, among other reasons. Read More

50 Ways an Earthquake Could Shatter—or Spare—These Major Northwest Cities

[National Geographic] One of the world’s most dangerous earthquake faults lies just 50 miles off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. To find out what might happen when the next big one hits, scientists simulated 50 different magnitude 9 earthquakes, and their work yielded a surprising result: Cities actually fared better when they were closer to the earthquake’s starting point.
The Cascadia Subduction Zone stretches more than 600 miles, from Cape Mendocino in northern California to Vancouver Island in Canada. There, along a giant rift in Earth’s crust, the Pacific’s sea floor sinks beneath the lighter North American tectonic plate.
Geological evidence shows that the fault has loosed a magnitude 9 earthquake at least 20 times over the last ten thousand years, along with another 20 or so magnitude 7 and 8 temblors. The last major Cascadia quake, likely a magnitude 8 or 9, jolted the region 317 years ago, unleashing a tsunami that inundated the Pacific Northwest and that was felt as far away as Japan.

That history suggests that it’s only a matter of time before the fault generates another devastating quake.
“We estimate the probability of having a magnitude 9 earthquake in the next 50 years is about 10 to 14 percent,” says Art Frankel, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. (Find out some of the surprising places that are also at risk due to earthquakes.)
In their simulations, Frankel and his colleagues modeled 50 combinations of three critical seismic effects: an earthquake’s origin, or epicenter; the length and direction of the rupture; and the intensity of the tremors along the fault.
The most damaging factor turned out to the direction in which a rupture spreads, study leader Erin Wirth at the University of Washington reported this week at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting in Seattle.
“If you have a large fault, the earthquake doesn't come from a point, it ruptures over a large area,” says Chris Goldfinger, a seismologist at Oregon State University who was not on the study team and who has uncovered much of the evidence for past earthquakes along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Read More

Nasa has found the reason behind Earth's record carbon dioxide spike

[IB Times] Nasa scientists have deduced that the recent spike in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels over the last two years has been directly caused by one of the largest El-Ninos on record, which happened in 2015.
The years 2015 and 2016 have seen the largest ever annual increase in atmospheric CO2 in over 2,000 years and it was mostly from Earth's tropical regions.
El-Nino refers to the influence that warmer or colder ocean waters have on climate around the globe called El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO); El-Nina is the cold phase, while El-Nino is the warm phase of this cycle.
Nasa has said that while the release of the CO2 can be directly attributed to El-Nino, exactly how this happened is still a matter of an ongoing study. The data for the research comes from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite, says a report from the space agency.
Studying 28 months of data from the OCO-2, Nasa scientists found that heat and droughts in the tropical regions of Africa, Indonesia, and South America were responsible for the surge in the release of atmospheric CO2.
Junjie Liu of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), lead author of the study, said: "These three tropical regions released 2.5 gigatons (1 gigaton = 1 billion tons) more carbon into the atmosphere than they did in 2011."
"Our analysis shows this extra carbon dioxide explains the difference in atmospheric carbon dioxide growth rates between 2011 and the peak years of 2015-16. OCO-2 data allowed us to quantify how the net exchange of carbon between land and atmosphere in individual regions is affected during El Nino years." Read More

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The New Atlantis: Master Plan of the Ages

[Cosmic Convergence] This is a story which spans the entirety of the 6000 yearlong Kali Yuga.  Also known as the Age of Quarrel, which began with the Mayan Long Count Calendar in approximately 3113 B.C.E., the Kali Yuga is analogous to the present Iron Age.  The true history of the current era, which is defined by so many epic wars and longstanding conflicts, is not only very protracted and extremely complex, many of the most important events and personages lie deeply hidden in its murky past.
There are several significant threads interwoven throughout this multi-millennial saga which graphically portray our current Age of Conflict.  Of those, the most important threads pass through the histories of Egypt, Sumeria, Persia, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and, finally, the United States of America.  However, this essay will concern itself primarily with the most recent Anglo-American chapter of modern history.
It is the Elizabethan era and the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England which provide the center stage for this essay, as does the American Revolutionary War period in the fledgling Thirteen Colonies.  For it was during these two critical and formative periods that the New Atlantis was conceived and greatly advanced.  Simply put, the seeds of desire for personal freedom and national sovereignty, which germinated in 16th century England, fully sprouted on American soil two hundred years later.
The leap from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras (1558 through 1625) to the Thirteen Colonies of the pre and post American War of Independence (early 1770s through 1783) is not well understood, even by the most knowledgeable historians.  The profound inter-relationship between the many major characters of Queen Elizabeth’s (and King James’s) court and the Founding Fathers of the American Republic has never been drawn or sufficiently acknowledged.  Consequently, much of the actual history has been lost, clouded in the mists of time, or purposefully misrepresented by those victors who wrote the history books.
The subtitle: Illuminism, Freemasonry and the Great White Brotherhood captures the essence of the underlying epochal conflict of the “Master Plan Of The Ages”.  All three of these entities are now profoundly misunderstood because of how highly charged and closely attached each is to various ideologies and isms, conspiracies and false concepts which abound on the Internet.
Making their comprehension even more difficult (especially Freemasonry and Illuminism), there is a profusion of crudely uninformed material on the Internet which further muddies the water of that already “murky past”.  Much of this false information has been deliberately disseminated for public consumption over centuries.  Whether it is purposeful disinformation or unintentional misinformation, it must be ignored as these new and significant disclosures are considered.
The microcosm of the Elizabethan court from 1558 to 1603 provides the perfect context in which to study the emergence of the secret societies which have come to dominate the modern era. Queen Elizabeth I was surrounded by some of the most brilliant and enlightened men of the age.  This generally accepted fact of English history is precisely why the Elizabethan Period became an unparalleled British era sometimes referred to as England’s Golden Age.  It has also been acknowledged as a high point for all of Western civilization, and especially for European culture and enlightenment.  The high attainments in areas as diverse as spiritual wisdom and mundane knowledge, philosophical discourse and artistic expression, scientific pursuit and occult learning became de rigueur for those who populated the royal court of Queen Elizabeth as well as London’s high society. Read More

New York City’s fate is closely tied to Antarctic ice, climate scientists warn

[Washington Post] New York City’s ability to withstand hurricanes could hinge on the state of the Antarctic ice sheet some 8,000 miles away, according to a study published Monday.
Using computer projections to simulate thousands of storms in potential future climates, researchers found that storms would be more likely to swerve away from the city. The trouble is the storms that do approach will, on average, be more powerful. And all storms that hit New York, regardless of their power, will start at a higher baseline, as they’ll be traveling on seas that have risen due to climate change.
The result is that the risk of a storm similar to Hurricane Sandy, albeit with a slightly smaller storm surge, has gone from a one-in-500-years event in 1800 to a one-in-25-years event today. By the period between 2030 and 2045, such storms could become a one-in-five-years event, according to the projections.
“Ultimately, the balance of evidence for our study is probably bad news for New York,” Andra Garner, the Rutgers University researcher who led the study, wrote in a comment to The Washington Post. “Although we do find minimal changes to future storm surge because of a compensation between shifting storm tracks and increasing storm intensity, we find drastic increases to overall flood heights due to rising sea-levels, which we calculate by combining storm surge with potential future sea-levels.”
The research predicts sea levels will rise steadily all the way out to the year 2300. The size of that rise, however, depends in part on the stability of Antarctica, which features large volumes of ice grounded below sea level in regions susceptible to warm ocean water. If those sections someday collapse into the ocean, all the ice sitting above sea level will drive a potentially large sea level rise. Read More

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hurricane Ophelia Sheds Light On Another Climate Change Concern

[Huffington Post] The remnants of former hurricane Ophelia slammed into Ireland and the western United Kingdom on Monday, claiming at least three lives, leaving nearly 400,000 without power and further cementing the 2017 hurricane season’s place in history. 
This time, scientists warn, the storm’s far reach into the eastern Atlantic illustrates how rising global temperatures could potentially expand the range of dangerous storms across the globe.
Before being downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, Ophelia was a Category 3 hurricane on Saturday and Sunday. It went farther east than any other previously recorded Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin and broke a record set in 1980
“As sea surface temperatures continue to warm, the region of the Atlantic Ocean that can support the genesis and strengthening of tropical storms and hurricanes is expanding eastward,” said Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science and the director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.
Hurricanes are not only reaching much farther to the east, but they’re forming farther east as well, Mann noted. Hurricane Irma, which devastated parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern United States last month, was the strongest hurricane to ever form as far east in the Atlantic as it did, he said.
“In my view, these are not coincidences,” Mann said. “These are precisely the sort of things we expect to happen as we continue to warm the planet. We should not be surprised that they are happening.”
Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said it’s not unprecedented for an Atlantic storm to affect Europe ― it happens “every 3 or 4 years or so,” he said ― but added that there is “an unusual aspect to this.” Read More

Meet Every Preppers Dream: The Rezvani Tank

[Automentality] With the threat of nuclear doom from North Korea, and zombie lore still a thing thanks to the AMC hit series, The Walking Dead, Rezvani has done us all a favor by creating one insane “apocalypse mobile.” The boutique supercar company from Irvine, Calif. says their latest creation is, “The most capable vehicle on and off the road.”
Meet, the Tank.
Powered by an SRT 6.4 liter HEMI V8 producing 500 horsepower, the XUV—or Xtreme Utility Vehicle—will power through just about anything put in front of it, including zombies. The underside of the Tank is a Jeep Wrangler frame, which is where the familiar bones of the vehicle stop and the “Xtreme” begins.
To protect occupants from heavy assault rifle fire, the Tank sports Kevlar ballistic custom body armor, bulletproof glass, and military grade run-flat tires. A Kevlar-protected fuel tank, floor pan, and radiator also help prevent immobilization. For added performance to escape a barrage of gunfire, there are two advanced off-road packages boasting a 6-inch lift with 37-inch by 12.5-inch tires, Dynatrac ProRock 44/60 axle set with E-Lockers, front and rear 1350 driveshafts, and FOX 2.5-inch remote reservoir shocks.
On top of the radical styling fit for the next Michael Bay film, the interior is the opposite of the military-grade exterior. Sporty leather seats and a suede headliner add a level of sophistication and comfort for when those zombies eventually arrive. For an extra level of “badassery,” the Tank comes standard with power-initiated suicide doors passengers don’t have to fumble with a door handle when fending off said zombies. Just in case, if the zombies happen to arrive and its dark outside, Rezvani added a FLiR (Forward Looking Infrared ) thermal night vision system with heat signatures and standard night vision. Read More

Astrophysicists want to shield Earth from solar flares with … a giant magnet?

[Digital Trends] When FDR said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he must not have been aware of solar flares: those tremendous ejections of energy that spew out of the Sun some 93 million miles away from Earth.
These things are devastating. According to experts, a powerful flare could knock out satellite communications and electrical grids, take the internet offline, and bring the world to a sudden halt.
Some scientists think the Sun poses one of the biggest threats to humanity; in a single solar flare, the typically life-giving orb could become the source of our demise. Now, a study out of Harvard University puts that risk in perspective, suggesting that such an event could smack Earth in the next century.
Solar flares happen often – they just don’t always impact Earth. Scientists think a solar event nearly sparked World War III. A huge flare called the Carrington event erupted 150 years ago, and caused auroras to paint the sky in technicolor as far south as Cuba and Hawaii. Pretty cool, right? Well it wasn’t so cool for telegraph operators worldwide who were physically shocked by spark discharges before their machines burst into flames. If the Carrington event occurred today, we can strap in for a for digital silence, if not the techpocalypse.
Luckily, there may be hope, as the researchers also offered an idea: put a massive magnet between us and the Sun.
Conducted by Harvard’s Avi Loeb and Manasvi Lingam, the study found that the most intense solar flares erupt from stars like ours approximately every 20 million years. We would be lucky to just lose cell service in an event like this, which could peel back our ozone layer and even mutate the DNA of most living organisms. Planet Earth, as we know it, would be changed forever.
A solar storm of that magnitude is unlikely to occur soon, but the researchers warn that we should be prepared for one similar to the Carrington event. Loeb told Digital Trends such an event would “damage power grids, satellites, and cause a breakdown of global supply chains.” Read More

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stockpiles, Self-Reliance, & Survival Skills — How Some Women Are Preparing For Our Uncertain Future

[Bustle] Kristen Tyler, a 36-year-old Portland resident who works as the director of recruiting for a software company, has spent the last decade learning how to be an effective prepper. If a major disaster happens — in her city, her country, or the world — Tyler wants to have everything she’d need to survive on her own. Contrary to popular belief, not all preppers are religious folks preparing for an apocalyptic doomsday. In actuality, they are worshippers of organization and intense planning, who, instead of trusting in a higher power (including the higher power of government), put their faith in self-reliance, survival skills and stockpiles — and many of them are women.
Every one to two months, Tyler seals a fresh supply of dry foods like quinoa, beans, and rice into mylar bags with silica gel packets to remove moisture, a process that can extend the shelf-life of the supplies by up to 12 years. She does the same with dog food for her two pups, a silver lab named Rhaegar and Winston, a yorkie. She also stashes cases of bottled water under the bed and in the closet (in addition to the five-gallon water jugs she keeps in the garage), keeps books on emergency field medicine handy, and regularly buys new supplies to add to the extensive first-aid and trauma care kits she keeps around the house and in her car.
She then meticulously documents everything she has in spreadsheets, which she keeps as digital files and also in a physical a binder she updates regularly, just to be safe. It’s still a work in progress, but her ultimate goal is to be able to survive for a full year with no outside help if necessary — mainly to be prepared in the event that “the big one” hits.
Portland is adjacent to the Cascadia subduction zone fault line, which runs along the northern coast of California, all the way through Oregon and Washington, and into the southern tip of British Columbia. Experts predict that a rupture — which they they mostly agree is inevitable, though no one knows when it will happen — would be catastrophic, causing a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that would last roughly five minutes and result in tsunamis along the coast.
“I wouldn’t see all that where I live,” Tyler tells Bustle, “but here in Portland it would still be a significant quake that would take down buildings and trees and cause landslides and some pretty serious destruction.”
Early in their relationship, Tyler, who also runs a side business as a photographer, sent articles about the Cascadia fault line to her boyfriend, 28-year-old Aaron. They also watched a documentary about it together. But it wasn’t until the couple had to endure a scary mini-emergency together that Aaron became fully supportive of her prepping efforts. Read More

Amazing new spray-on cement could help old buildings survive earthquakes

[Digital Trends] Earthquakes can cause massive amounts of devastation. Using modern building materials and designs, architects have created a number of impressively reinforced buildings around the world which are able to survive quakes that would level many structures. However, what can you do to earthquake-proof an existing building? That’s a question that civil engineering researchers at the University of British Columbia took on in a recent project.
As a result of the researcht, they’ve developed a brand-new type of concrete, which can be sprayed onto walls, and will successfully protect buildings from being damaged in the event of even major quakes. This is possible thanks to a fiber-reinforced design which allows the concrete to bend, rather than fracture, when it is violently shaken. In simulation tests, the “eco-friendly ductile cementitious composite” (EDCC) was able to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude equal to the 9.0 – 9.1 quake that hit Tohoku, Japan back in 2011.
“We sprayed a number of walls with a 10-millimeter thick layer of EDCC, which is sufficient to reinforce most interior walls against seismic shocks,” Salman Soleimani-Dashtaki, a civil engineering PhD candidate, who worked on the project, said in a statement. “Then we subjected them to Tohoku-level quakes and other types and intensities of earthquakes and we couldn’t break them.”
The strong-but-malleable material the UBC researchers developed is likened to steel in terms of many of its properties, but actually takes advantage of polymer-based fibers, industrial additives, and an industrial byproduct called flyash. Flyash makes the material environmentally friendly, too, since it reduces the amount of cement required — thereby helping cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment as a byproduct of cement manufacturing.
Next up, the researchers plan to use it to treat the walls of Vancouver’s Dr. Annie B. Jamieson Elementary School, as well as a school in northern India. (The research was funded by the Canada-India Research Center of Excellence IC-IMPACTS, which promotes research collaboration between Canada and India.) In the future, the hope is that the material can be used in a variety of applications — including homes, pipelines, pavements, offshore platforms, and more.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Step Inside the Silicon Valley of Agriculture

[National Geographic] How did the Netherlands, a country better known for its tulips, become a leading tomato producer and the top exporter of onions and potatoes? With more than half its land area used for agriculture, the nation is a pioneer in greenhouse horticulture. Dutch farmers are trailbrazing innovative methods that result in producing more food with fewer resources—methods that are increasingly relevant as climate change and more dramatic cycles of drought and flooding wreak havoc on traditional farming, coupled with a global population on target to reach 10 billion by 2050.
The Dutch landscape is home to swaths of greenhouses that minimize gas, electricity, and water usage along with greenhouse gas emissions while maximizing the use of sunlight and recycling nutrients. Further innovation comes in the form of the buildings themselves—construction materials, lighting, and heating and cooling systems.
But not every strategy is necessarily high-tech. Some tap the power of nature. To reduce the use of pesticides, many growers have turned to what’s known as “biocontrol” to protect their crops, using insects, mites, and microscopic worms to feed on damaging pests.
State-of-the-art technology also fuels the business of getting produce and flowers to market. Round-the-clock packaging plants and highly-automated cargo terminals at the port of Rotterdam help maintain the country’s rank as the number two global exporter of food products (by value) behind the United States.
Now the country has added knowledge and technology to its extensive list of exports. The government, universities, research institutes, and private growers and breeders are involved in food systems projects around the world. This export of knowledge also happens on Dutch soil—at university campuses where thousands of international students earn degrees to help address food security issues in their home countries. Read More

A Sequence to Connect to Your Crown Chakra

[Yoga International] The chakras, mystical components of subtle body anatomy, have become so popular as to belie their esoteric origins. The bija (seed) mantras, symbolism, and elemental associations used to express and define these subtle centers are rich sources of inquiry and thematic inspiration for practice. But as a component of the subtle body, the chakras are traditionally thought to be nearly inaccessible except for those with highly developed and nuanced meditative capacities.
In Yoga & Ayurveda David Frawley writes: “The purpose of opening one’s chakras is not to improve one’s capacity in the ordinary domains of human life, but to go beyond our mortal and transient seeking to the immortal essence.” Frawley goes on to remind us that: “According to the yoga system, in the ordinary human state, which is rarely transcended except by sustained spiritual practice, the chakras are closed; that is, they do not truly function. The result of this is not disease, but ignorance.
The ignorance that results from being unable to access these energy centers is self-identification with things that are constantly in flux—our physical bodies, thoughts and opinions, relationships, or even our preferences.
While asana can be a magnificent opportunity to observe our own tendencies toward the erratic mental behavior that accompanies attachment, we yoga practitioners often fixate on “The Pose” as a meaningful end in itself. Thus, we continue to toil in avidya (ignorance).
In their book Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews have a beautiful way of putting asana into perspective for a subtle-body-focused practice: An asana, or yoga pose, is a container for an experience. An asana is not an exercise for strengthening or stretching a particular muscle or muscle group, although it might have that effect. It is a form that we inhabit for a moment, a shape that we move into and out of, a place where we might choose to pause in the continuously flowing movement of life. In yoga poses, we experience a cross-section of a never-ending progression of movement and breath, extending infinitely forward and backward in time.
With a chakra-focused asana practice, this notion of an asana being a “container for an experience” is a crucial qualification. While we cannot engage any of the chakras directly through our physical efforts, the yoga tradition holds that we can affect the flow of prana (vital energy) and direct our awareness toward a single, stable point. This focus is one of the ways Patanjali suggests that practitioners attain yoga, the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
While it may not be accurate to say that I can effect change in my root, or muladhara chakra, I can inquire into the quality of earth (the element associated with that chakra) and my relationship to stability, and I can concentrate on the gross (physical) body as a kind of structural sheath for my mind.
The crown chakra, aka sahasrara (the thousand-petaled lotus), is where the masculine and feminine forces, Shiva and Shakti, are said to unite and imbue the meditator with tremendous clarity and awakening.
The crown chakra is described as being just above the crown of the head, beyond the physical body itself.
The way to access any of the chakras is through sushumna nadi, the central channel, along which the chakras are oriented. Sushumna is fed by side channels, called ida (on the left) and pingala (on the right), associated with Shakti and Shiva, respectively. Shiva is associated with the right half of the body and Shakti with the left.
The esoteric dynamic of push and pull, up and down, masculine and feminine, is embodied by each of us in the breath through exhalation (Shiva) and inhalation (Shakti). Read More

‘Death puts a pall on visitors’: California wine country wonders when tourists will return

[Sacramento Bee] The sun was shining, the temperatures were pleasant and, by all rights, the tasting room at Buena Vista Winery should have been packed Sunday.
Instead, California’s oldest winery was surrounded by a phalanx of exhausted, soot-covered firefighters. Wine barrels were dusted in ash, and the fountain in front of the 19th-century stone-and-mortar building was filled with muddy gray water. A nearby oak tree still smoldered, and the hillside was charred to within 20 feet of the winery.
“Doesn’t get much closer,” said Scott Fraser, a weary battalion chief from a Lake Tahoe-area strike team.
After a week of misery and death, Northern California’s devastating wildfires showed signs of easing off Sunday. As winds calmed down, containment grew at most of the major fires and the citywide evacuation order for Calistoga was lifted. More than 25,000 people were allowed to return home across Northern California. The death toll was unchanged at 41 and some evacuation shelters closed down.
“We were able to make considerable progress,” Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
It was also clear, however, that the road to recovery was going to be long and slow. Approximately 75,000 Northern Californians were still displaced, scores of people remained missing and large pockets of Northern California were facing lengthy and painful economic recoveries.
That was particularly true for the tasting rooms, spas and luxury B&Bs that give California’s fabled wine industry its distinctive flavor. Winery owners and innkeepers said they expect to reopen quickly, but they acknowledged that visitors might not be so quick to return.
“That’s the hard part. We’re all ready to get back to normalcy but there may not be a lot of people who will come,” said Erin Stauffer, chief marketing officer at Domaine Carneros, considered one of the most elegant wineries in the region. “We anticipate that.”
Located west of the city of Napa, Domaine Carneros plans to reopen Tuesday.
The wildfires’ timing couldn’t be worse. Fall is prime time for visitors to Napa and Sonoma, where tourism is a $3.2 billion-a-year industry – or about three times the size of the annual wine grape crop. As many as 10 percent of the visitors come from overseas. Read More

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Another Victim of Hurricane Maria: Puerto Rico’s Treasured Rainforest

[New York Times] When you looked up, you could once see nothing but the lush, emerald canopy of tabonuco and sierra palm trees covering El Yunque National Forest.
That was before Hurricane Maria obliterated the only tropical rain forest in the United States forest system. Left behind was a scene so bare that on a recent visit, it was possible to see the concrete skyline of San Juan about 30 miles west — a previously unimaginable sight.
El Yunque, pronounced Jun-kay, has been an enormous source of pride in Puerto Rico and one of the main drivers of the island’s tourism industry. The 28,000-acre forest on the eastern part of the island has over 240 species of trees; 23 of those are found nowhere else. Over 50 bird species live among the forest’s crags and waterfalls.
But sunlight now reaches cavities of the forest that have not felt a ray of light in decades, bringing with it a scorching heat.
“Hurricane Maria was like a shock to the system,” said Grizelle Gonz├ílez, a project leader at the International Institute of Tropical Forestry, part of United States Department of Agriculture. “The whole forest is completely defoliated.”
The hardest hit areas at the top of the forest “might take a century to recover,” Ms. Gonz├ílez, who has worked at El Yunque for 17 years, said.
Tree trunks that still stood were left brown, stripped of their leaves and dark-green mosses. Landslides have scattered the forest with mounds of displaced soil and boulders.
The billions of gallons of water that rain every year on the eight major rivers that originate here supply 20 percent of the drinkable water in Puerto Rico.
“What’s going to happen if the ecosystem has less capacity to capture that water, get it into the streams, and into the municipal water systems?” Sharon Wallace, the forest supervisor for El Yunque, said. Read More

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Volcano Eruption From 16.5 Million Years Ago That Helped Cool Earth, Explained

[IB Times] Volcanic eruptions have served as cornerstones to evolution on Earth. From aiding the creation of first signs of life on Earth to the extinction of dinosaurs, volcanic eruptions constantly feature as important events in history that altered the course of planetary evolution.
Now researchers at Washington State University have determined that the Pacific Northwest was home to one of the Earth's largest known volcanic eruptions around 16.5 million years ago.
In fact, only two eruptions were larger than the one in the Pacific Northwest: the basalt flood of the Siberian Traps and the Deccan Traps.
These eruptions, a millennia-long spewing of sulfuric gas that blocked out the sun and cooled the planet, also led to large-scale extinction of life on the planet.
"These eruptions did have a global effect on temperatures, but not drastic enough to start killing things, or it did not kill enough of them to affect the fossil record," said John Wolff, a professor in the WSU School of the Environment, in a report by
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and published in Geology journal. It connects geological and archaeological data from across the world to connect the dots to a major, landscape changing event in our planets’ history.
The team estimated the eruption to have occurred 16.5 million years ago. Vents found in Washington and Northwest Oregon sent the flow of basalt from the eruption all the way from Canada to the Pacific Ocean.
This flow formed the Wapshilla Ridge Member of the Grande Ronde Basalt, a kilometer-thick block familiar to travelers in the Columbia Gorge and most of Eastern Washington. This is the largest basalt flood map plotted till date. Read More

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Wildfires are sweeping through California. Here’s what you need to know

[PBS] Clusters of wildfires continue to rip through Northern California and Anaheim, propelled by powerful winds and dry conditions.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) reported Tuesday that 17 fires are currently charring more than 110,000 acres across the region, though some of the smaller fires are up to 50 percent contained. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in eight counties. Fire officials have yet to determine a cause for the fires in Northern California.
The fires began Sunday and grew within a matter of hours, prompting thousands to flee. Some of the largest blazes have burned through through Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties in Northern California. The speed of the blaze took fire officials by surprise, burning through 20,000 acres in 12 hours on Monday night. Further south, residents of Anaheim Hills and Orange County were also forced to evacuate as a brush fire, now 25 percent contained, burned through 7,500 acres and destroyed 24 structures. 
The intensity of the Napa firestorm over a span of a few hours make it one of the worst in the state’s history.
Though the cause of these fires aren’t yet known, research continues to find human activity to blame for a majority of nationwide fires. From leftover campfires to wayward fireworks, it is said that up to 84 percent of fires are human caused.
Officials told media outlets at least 15 people died in the fires and more than 1,500 homes and business have been destroyed.
As of Monday, more than 100 people were also injured by the fires, officials told CNN. Most patients were treated for smoke inhalation. The destroyed businesses include at least two wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties, the Associated Press reported.
Santa Rosa, home to 175,000 people, saw some of the worst damage. Some residents told The New York Times, they “couldn’t even find the street” to their neighborhood once the fire had burnt through the area. Read More

We throw out $31M of food every year. This chef is reclaiming some to feed the poor

[The Globe and Mail] The carrot had one top but two roots.
Normally, such a thing would never wind up on grocery shelves, let alone a commercial kitchen. At best, a "forked" carrot might be trucked to a farm somewhere and used as animal feed. At worst, it would wind up in a landfill to decompose.
But last week in her kitchen near downtown Vancouver, as Chef Karen Barnaby turned the vegetable over in her hands, she only saw potential.
"If you think about all the time that went into making this carrot, getting it right here, into my hand …" she said. She set the gnarled root down on her cutting board to dice.
"From the seed, to the people who planted it and harvested it – to have someone say 'Oh no, sorry, that's a two-pronged carrot, I don't want to use it?'" Her voice trailed off, a bewildered look on her face.
On that day and most days in her kitchen of late, Ms. Barnaby's focus has been on turning similarly unloved vegetables into soup. Specifically, tomato soup.
For the past few months in her role as a chef working with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB), she's been salvaging tomatoes and other donated ingredients directly from farmers and suppliers – food that would otherwise wind up in landfills. Overripe tomatoes with skin that stretched and split when squeezed. Tomatoes with bruises on them. Pale, anemic-looking ones not likely to ripen. These ingredients will make up her soup.
In the food world, these are sometimes referred to as "below seconds" – still safe and edible, but unacceptable to retailers. In order to understand the scope of what was available, Chef Barnaby's partner on the project, Alexa Pitoulis, went straight to the packing plant lines, where she stood over workers' shoulders, watching as they sorted. Whenever a worker would pluck a bunch of tomatoes to discard, Ms. Pitoulis would lean in to see if they were still usable. Often, the answer was yes.
What she witnessed at the packing plants is part of a much larger problem that affects every segment of the food industry. An estimated $31-billion worth of food – mostly fruit, vegetables and meat – is needlessly thrown out in Canada every year. Globally, about one-third of all food produced goes to waste. And it happens at every level of the food system – the result of everything from inefficient agricultural practices, to retailers' demand for cosmetically "perfect" produce, to consumers who buy in bulk without regard for necessity.
Wasted food has major environmental repercussions. Producing food only to have it wind up in landfill means already limited resources such as land, water and fertilizer have been squandered. And as that food decomposes, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas – about 3.3-billion tonnes of it each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Read More

Monday, October 9, 2017

Introduction to the UBUNTU Movement by Michael Tellinger

Hurricane Nate Flooding In Beau Rivage, Mississippi, Alabama Captured In Pictures And Videos

[IBI Times] Hurricane Nate made its way to Mississippi Saturday, bringing heavy flooding to certain parts of the state. Photos and videos from inside casinos in Biloxi showed just how much rain inundated the area.
Hurricane Nate made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River Saturday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm brought hazardous conditions along the coast from Alabama to Louisiana
National Geographic photographer and storm chaser Mike Theiss posted pictures and videos from Biloxi’s Golden Nugget casino, showing floodwaters inside the structure reaching almost halfway up the doors. Other photos and videos from the Beau Rivage Casino showed similarly high flooding.
The Beau Rivage Casino and all other Mississippi casinos closed Saturday in preparation for the storm but most reopened Monday afternoon. The Beau Rivage casino invited residents to celebrate the passing of the storm at the establishment this week.
Power outages were reported throughout the coast some 82,000 people in Alabama remained without power Sunday, according to Alabama Media Group.
Hurricane Nate continued on its northward path after sweeping through Mississippi and other regions, though it was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday was expected to weaken further as it made its way inland. Nate’s winds had decreased to about 20 mph as it circulated through Ohio Monday. Read More

Rare ‘fire devil’ phenomenon is caught on film sending ash and flames spiralling into the night sky as 1,000 firemen battle Portuguese wildfires

[Daily Mail] A rare phenomenon, known as a fire devil, was caught on camera as it sent a vortex of fire and ash spiralling into the night sky as Portugal battled wild fires.
The apocalyptic-looking sight was filmed on Saturday evening by Portuguese broadcaster TVI as 1,000 firefighters battled five wildfires this weekend.
A ‘fire devil’ is a whirl of fire which looks like a tornado and consists of a core of ash and an invisible rotating pocket of air. 
Fire devils are created when a wildfire or firestorm creates its own wind, which then morphs into a vortex of fire.
Portugal has been devastated by fires this year as the country suffered from drought. 
The deadliest fire in Portugal's history killed 64 people in June when it devastated the central region of Pedrogao Grande.
Many died on a road in their cars as they tried to flee the rampant flames.
The Civil Protection Agency stated that 90 percent of the fires this year were either intentionally or accidentally started by people. Learn More

At least 10 dead, 1,500 structures lost in Northern California firestorm, among worst in state's history

[LA Times] At least 10 people have died and at least 1,500 homes, businesses and other structures have been destroyed as more than 14 fires ravaged eight counties throughout Northern California on Monday, authorities said.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office reported seven fire-related deaths late Monday. In addition, two died because of the Atlas fire in Napa County, said a CalFire spokesperson. One person died as result of the Redwood Valley fire in Mendocino County.
The vast devastation over just a few hours made this firestorm one of the worst in California history, with Gov. Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency.
Local hospitals were treating those injured while others are unaccounted for, officials said. Additional fatalities were possible as search efforts continued.
One of the raging fires had Santa Rosa under siege Monday morning, with a large swath of the city north of downtown under an evacuation order.
The area of Fountaingrove appeared to be particularly hard hit, with photos showing numerous homes on fire. The Fountaingrove Inn, a Hilton hotel and a high school also burned. Officials said homes were also lost in the community of Kenwood and at a mobile home park off the 101 Freeway.
Coffey Park, a large Santa Rosa subdivision of dozens of homes, was burned to the ground.
“It’s fair to say it’s been destroyed,” Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said of Santa Rosa’s Fountaingrove neighborhood. Read More