Showing posts from September, 2014

Greenland’s black snow ominous sign of climate disruptions

B. McPherson

Most of think of Greenland when we think of it at all, is of an almost continent covered in miles of ice. Times are changing and changing fast. For the past couple of decades environmental scientists have been warning of increased melting of the ice. This year, the melting was the greatest recorded.
Scientist Jason Box, working for the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, came back from his summer survey of the ice-cap with stunning photographs that bode ill for the rest of the world. The pristine white snow is black. Not just sprinkled with bits of dark pollution, black. You may find the photos he brought back at the Slate site.
Dark surfaces absorb more heat from the sun than light. The changing surface of Greenland has speeded up the melting of this Arctic refrigerator.
Sources of the dark matter on the Arctic ice can come from many areas. This summer there have been fewer snowstorms to cover dark material, winds circulate air from industrialized countries and…

Microbeads from cosmetics are clogging fish guts

B. McPherson

The cosmetic industry is taking a quick turn in their product offerings. The recent phenomenon in the beauty world of offering microbeads in everything from tooth paste to body scrubs is being phased out. By 2018 in the USA most states will have banned their use and the cosmetic companies are listening.
Perhaps in the past you have purchased Crest toothpaste with neat little glitter bits in it. It’s supposed to encourage children to brush their teeth, but adults can use it too. I’ve used it. It’s kind of fun. Turns out the glitter bits are small pieces of coloured plastic. They are not poisonous, but polypropylene is not high of children’s meal menus. Many cosmetics contain tiny plastic beads as well. They have been touted as a way to achieve smooth skin. The organization Beat the Microbead has an extensive list of products that contain these tiny pieces of plastic.
Those tiny pieces of plastic make their way down the drains of the cities and from there to the water tre…

GM eggplant released without independent testing

B. McPherson
The development of genetically modified field crops is a lucrative business. Monsanto corporation is often cited as the entity responsible for the proliferation of GM field crops. It is a leader in this industry, but there are many others eager to cash in on the bonanza.
Sometimes that eagerness combined with crop losses in normal plants pushes GM seed release before it has been independently tested for health and environmental risks. Information is now available that puts a shadow on the Bangladeshi government’s approval of four varieties of GM eggplant(brinjal) seeds.
That eagerness to release Bt brinjal(eggplant) to farmers may come with health impacts. The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute(BARI) has admitted that there were no independent health/toxicity tests done before the release of the seed. The reason, or excuse, given was that there were no suitable labs available. Instead, BARI relied on information released by the corporation that had patented the g…

Pakistan: hundreds dead in monsoon flooding

B. McPherson People fleeing rising flood waters in Pakistan Residents of Pakistan and India are struggling with the worst flooding in decades as heavy rains from the monsoon caused rapid rises in river levels. There are hundreds confirmed dead with little word from villages hit with floods and mudslides.
The city of Lahore is flooded. Photographs displayed by Indian newspapers show chest deep water running in the cities of Kashmir and Pakistan. Buildings in the cities tend to be built of fired brick, but many in the countryside are made of mud brick which dissolved in the water’s onslaught.
Srinagar in Kashmir has been hard hit with flooded streets and interrupted communications. Rescue efforts have been slowed by lack of boats. Thousands of people have been displaced after losing all their belongings to the fast flowing Jhelum River.
Every year during the monsoon, flooding occurs in India and Pakistan but this year’s flooding is now classed as the worst in decades.
When watching TV …

Drought in Central America spectre of hunger looms

B. McPherson
Drought and disease have conspired to throw farmers in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras into poverty. The coffee bean rust has ruined coffee trees and continuing drought has meant lost crops for about 40 000 families in Guatemala. Fishing has also been poor, blamed on El Nino.
The government of Guatemala has declared the situation an emergency. The UN World Food Programme is assisting the Central American countries. 170 000 households in Guatemala are receiving food aid. Honduras is receiving aid for 76 000 families. Due to the dire conditions red beans have soared in price since January.
Guatemala faced a severe drought only five years ago. It was another El Nino year and at that time an estimated 2.5 million people were severely malnourished.
Guatemala was one of those “Banana Republics”. Their democratic government was overthrown in the ‘50s when it is alleged that the CIA worked to protect the properties of the United Fruit Growers(Chiquita Brands) which stood to lo…