Source: The Economist
THE capital is now under siege from the waters slithering down from the north towards the Gulf of Thailand. Shops, businesses and government offices in Bangkok cower behind makeshift concrete parapets and piles of sandbags. Bridges and elevated expressways are filling up with fleets of parked cars, to spare them from the deluge below. And all the time people speculate about just how bad it might get in a city the Europeans once called the Venice of Asia.
Despite the defences, there is likely to be some flooding. The government desperately wants to divert water around the capital, to east and west, but the volume is too great. The desire to save densely populated Bangkok is understandable. But the strategy is angering those in the northern suburbs, where neighbourhoods are filling up with water as the sluice gates remain closed. An admirable steadfastness among Thai people is wearing thin.
Flood Map Of Thailand
Source: The Daily Mail - August 5, 2011
Electricity officials in heatwave-hit Texas have warned of impending rolling blackouts from power shortages as the U.S. state struggles to cope with the relentless scorching temperatures.
Texans have turned to air conditioners in huge numbers in a bid to beat one of the hottest summers on record in America's second most populous state.
But bosses for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) say the soaring power demand in the face of the brutal heatwave has left the state one power plant shut-down away from rolling blackouts.
Temperatures in Texas are currently topping 100F (37.8C) and have been soaring for well over a month.
Record highs have also been recorded this week in nearby states Oklahoma and Arkansas as the relentless heatwave spreads across southern America.
In Forth Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas, the mercury hit 115F on Wednesday.
ERCOT, which runs the power grid for most of Texas, cut power to some large industrial users after electricity demand hit three consecutive records this week alone.
The grid operator now faces rolling blackouts similar to those which hit Texas during a bitter cold snap in February.
Although the electricity firm have done their best to regulate power use and prevent shortages, experts admitted a further shut-down is a possibility.
Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president at the Electric Power Research Institute, said: 'You always have to expect the unexpected can happen.
'A unit can shut. The wind may not blow.'
Ice storms in February crippled dozens of power plants, forcing ERCOT to impose rolling blackouts for hours as electric power demand outstripped supply.
Power usage in ERCOT reached its highest level ever on Wednesday at 68,294 megawatts, almost four per cent over last year's peak.
The Texas grid faces at least one more day of extreme stress before temperatures cool slightly over the weekend.
Temperatures in Houston, the state's biggest city, should return to near normal levels in the upper 90s over the weekend, according to AccuWeather.com.
The state's biggest power generators, including units of Energy Future Holdings, NRG Energy, Calpine Corp and others, have been running flat out to cash in real-time prices that have hit the $3,000/MWh cap in recent days.
But the state's reserve margins have been running razor thin. On Wednesday ERCOT came within 50 megawatts of interrupting flows to industrial customers.
One megawatt powers about 200 homes in Texas during hot weather when air conditioners are running for long periods.
Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of system planning and operations, said more generation supplies would help, but added that state power generators cannot be expected to prepare for every extreme in weather.
He said: 'You have to determine if it is worth spending millions or billions to avoid a one in 10-year event.'
With record-breaking demand came record-breaking prices. Prices for Thursday power topped $400 per megawatt hour, the highest in at least a decade. Friday's power prices approached $600.
Real-time prices also hit the $3,000 market cap over the past few days.
ERCOT has about 73,000 MW of natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear and wind generating facilities, but not all of that capacity is available all the time.
Texas has the most wind power in the country, but the wind does not blow during the summer. Ercot said it got about 2,000 MW from wind during the peak hour on Wednesday.
Posted by Harvest Dream on Friday, July 8. 2011 in Africa, Animals, Corruption, Dark Arts, Earth Changes, Ecology, Economy, ET/Exotic Tech, Food Security, Global Banking, Health , Infrastructure, Poverty, Technology, The Occult
Weather wars comprise a good deal of what today is considered climate change, the technological tug of war battle for moisture is the hidden element that pursuades markets and alters the course of entire societies. Attached at the hip to this growing turmoil is the economic warfare sphere, which profits and exacerbates the growing food dislocations around the world, primarily felt by its intended targets, the 'infrastructural poor', who have no leverage in the system of global trade, and who rely on seasonal climate cycles which no longer apply, discontinued as they increasingly are by means of technological force, ecological ruination and soil degradation.
Source: Global Research - July 8, 2011
The countries comprising the Horn of Africa face the threat of famine, after a series of failed and poor rainy seasons has created the worst drought in 60 years.
The 2010 late rainy season failed completely in many parts of the area and the April-May rains were very low, with northeast Kenya getting only 10 percent of the usual rainfall. The impact is worst in Somalia and Ethiopia, but Kenya, Djibouti and parts of Uganda are also affected.
The current USAID Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) map of the area, indicating levels of food insecurity, shows large parts of Ethiopia and Somalia classed as in emergency and most of the remaining parts of each country classed as in crisis. Large areas of northeastern Kenya are classed as in crisis. In total, around 10 million people are affected.
Sarah Robinson from the Irish humanitarian agency on the ground in Somalia explained, “A combination of hunger and despair means that many people simply go to sleep and do not have the energy to wake up. This has the potential to be as bad as anything since 1991.”
A major famine in 1991 killed around a quarter of a million people and left two million displaced.
In Somalia the drought and threatened famine are compounded by the ongoing civil war and social upheaval. Some people leaving the drought ravaged rural areas have trekked to the capital, Mogadishu, but many more have headed for Ethiopia and Kenya.
Hundreds of thousands of people are on the move, some walking for weeks and covering hundreds of miles in search of relief. One woman, Fatuma, speaking to the Save the Children Fund said she had walked for six weeks with her four children, all under 11, from Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya.
She explained, “The weather was very harsh. It was so hot, and there was very little shelter. I left my husband in Somalia. I do not know if I will see him again. The war in Somalia is very bad for families. The drought is just too much. We cannot cope. We had 15 goats. But they died one by one because of the drought. We had a well in my village, but it dried up. Then the one in the next village dried up.”
One refugee camp at Dadaab, in the northeastern area of Kenya, was built to hold 90,000 people but is now trying to cope with more than four times that number, with thousands squatting on the perimeter hoping to get in. Dadaab has now become the largest refugee camp in the world.
The Horn of Africa area has been accustomed to scarce water supplies at some times of the year, but the pattern of rainfall does seem to be changing. In much of the area of Ethiopia and Somalia the failure of two successive rainy periods is something that would occur every 10 years or so, but now appears to occur every two years. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spokesman for the area, Michael Klaus, explained, “We realised these recurrent droughts used to happen every 5-10 years but what we see now is it basically every other year… an indication of climate change conditions.”
According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the rainfall data for 2010-11 for much of Kenya and Ethiopia was the driest or second driest for 60 years. Climate researchers are beginning to attribute extreme weather patterns to climate change. Peter Stott at the Met Office Hadley Centre in Britain recently stated, “We’ve certainly moved beyond the point of saying that we can’t say anything about attributing extreme weather events to climate change.”
Adapting to the harsh conditions of the area, many people live in pastoral communities moving their herds of animals to pasture and water in neighbouring areas to be able to maintain their herds. This way of life had been sustainable and was a big contribution to the GDP of countries in the Horn of Africa. The current drought is killing hundreds of thousands of herd animals, destroying the pastoral people’s livelihoods.
Until recent days there had been little international media coverage of the fast developing potential catastrophe in the Horn of Africa. It has now received some coverage, but there is still a big shortfall in the levels of aid been offered to alleviate the situation.
Aid agencies have appealed for around $530 million in donations for Kenya and the same for Somalia, but so far have received only about half of what is needed. The WFP issued a statement last week saying, “The humanitarian response in Somalia and Ethiopia in particular is hampered by large funding shortfalls. New contributions are urgently needed or suffering will grow.”
The situation is being exacerbated by rising food prices. Kenya is currently experiencing double-digit inflation and, according to a UN IRIN news report, the price of maize, one of the main food staples has risen threefold since January. In Djibouti, wheat flour rose by 17 percent in the course of one month earlier in the year.
A World Development Movement (WDM) report on responses to the recent hike in food prices quoted a Nairobi transport worker saying. “Maybe it’s time we went the way of Egypt.”
A WDM report issued in June warned of a summer of speculation boosting food prices. The report notes, “The price of maize—more of which is grown than any other staple food crop—has increased by 102 percent since April 2010. New research from the World Development Movement reveals that hedge funds, investment banks and others own futures contracts for maize worth $15.7 billion up 127.5 percent from a year ago.”
Posted by Harvest Dream on Wednesday, June 22. 2011 in Bioengineering, BioHazards, Earth Changes, Ecology, Food Security, Geology, Health , Infrastructure, Oceans, Seas and Rivers, Radiation, Technology
Source: The Guardian - June 13, 2011
Drought zones have been declared across much of England and Wales, yet Scotland has just registered its wettest-ever May. The warmest British spring in 100 years followed one of the coldest UK winters in 300 years. June in London has been colder than March. February was warm enough to strip on Snowdon, but last Saturday it snowed there.
Welcome to the climate rollercoaster, or what is being coined the "new normal" of weather. What was, until quite recently, predictable, temperate, mild and equable British weather, guaranteed to be warmish and wettish, ensuring green lawns in August, now sees the seasons reversed and temperature and rainfall records broken almost every year. When Kent receives as much rain (4mm) in May as Timbuktu, Manchester has more sunshine than Marbella, and soils in southern England are drier than those in Egypt, something is happening.
Sober government scientists at the centre for hydrology and ecology are openly using words like "remarkable", "unprecedented" and "shocking" to describe the recent physical state of Britain this year, but the extremes we are experiencing in 2011 are nothing to the scale of what has been taking place elsewhere recently.
Last year, more than 2m sq km of eastern Europe and Russia scorched. An extra 50,000 people died as temperatures stayed more than 6C above normal for many weeks, crops were devastated and hunderds of giant wild fires broke out. The price of wheat and other foods rose as two thirds of the continent experienced its hottest summer in around 500 years.
This year, it's western Europe's turn for a mega-heatwave, with 16 countries, including France, Switzerland and Germany (and Britain on the periphery), experiencing extreme dryness. The blame is being out on El Niño and La Niña, naturally occurring but poorly understood events that follow heating and cooling of the Pacific ocean near the equator, bringing floods and droughts.
Vast areas of Europe have received less than half the rainfall they would normally get in March, April and May, temperatures have been off the scale for the time of year, nuclear power stations have been in danger of having to be shut down because they need so much river water to cool them, and boats along many of Europe's main rivers have been grounded because of low flows. In the past week, the great European spring drought has broken in many places as massive storms and flash floods have left the streets of Germany and France running like rivers.
But for real extremes in 2011, look to Australia, China and the southern US these past few months. In Queeensland, Australia, an area the size of Germany and France was flooded in December and January in what was called the country's "worst natural disaster". It cost the economy up to A$30bn (£19.5bn), devastated livelihoods and is still being cleaned up.
In China, a "once-in-a-100-years" drought in southern and central regions has this year dried up hundreds of reservoirs, rivers and water courses, evaporating drinking supplies and stirring up political tensions. The government responded with a massive rain-making operation, firing thousands of rockets to "seed" clouds with silver iodide and other chemicals. It may have worked: for whatever reason, the heavens opened last week, a record 30cm of rain fell in some places in 24 hours, floods and mudslides killed 94 people, and tens of thousands of people have lost their homes.
Meanwhile, north America's most deadly and destructive tornado season ever saw 600 "twisters" in April alone, and 138 people killed in Joplin, Missouri, by a mile-wide whirlwind. Arizonans were this week fighting some of the largest wildfires they have known, and the greatest flood in recorded US history is occurring along sections of the Missouri river. This is all taking place during a deepening drought in Texas and other southern states – the eighth year of "exceptional" drought there in the past 12 years.
"I don't know how much more we can take," says John Butcher, a peanut and cotton farmer near Lubbock, Texas. "It's dry like we have never seen it before. I don't remember anything like this. We may lose everything."
Source: Planet Ark - May 25, 2011
An invasive alien weed, silverleaf nightshade, is threatening cotton and wheat crops in Syria and Iraq and could spread to Lebanon and Jordan, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.
More than 60 percent of the farmland in Syria, growing mainly cotton and wheat, has been infested with the weed, originally from the American tropics, which sucks nutrients from the soil and starves crops of water, the FAO said in a statement.
Olive groves have been affected by the weed and a similar mass infestation has been reported in northwest Iraq. The invasive plant has also been spotted at sites in Lebanon and Jordan, where it will spread if nothing is done, it said.
"This particular type of weed competes aggressively with crops for nutrients whilst its deep root system dries down soil moisture," Gualbert Gbehounou, FAO Weed Officer, said in the statement.
The weed, a relative of the tomato, probably arrived in the Middle East as a result of globalization of trade through seeds accidentally brought over in containers or bags of farm commodities, the FAO said.
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