XDR-TB Travel Bans, Leper Colonies Needed

With the current media buzz about XDR TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis), a few brief facts from my Jan 22 2007 IPS article may offer some perspective about this serious health issue:

* South Africa’s international tourism boom and global trade and transport systems, the XDR-TB outbreak represents “a potentially explosive international health crisis”

* “The problem is a lot bigger than we know….I wouldn’t be surprised if it has spread to all the surrounding countries,” said Jerome Amir Singh, an HIV/AIDS expert at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban.

* Strains of drug-resistant TB first arose in the former Soviet bloc countries in the 1990s as a result of incomplete drug treatment regimes and deteriorating health care systems.

* About one-third of the world’s population carries the TB bacterium in their bodies

For more see Strict Quarantines Possible for African Outbreak of Deadly New Infectious TB Strain (XDR-TB)

See also this update from India: High incidence of drug-resistant TB found in India

Like Enron, Earth Inc. Sliding Into Bankruptcy

Earth Inc. Sliding Into Bankruptcy
By Stephen Leahy

Credit:WWF-Canon / Hartmut

Mangrove destruction for shrimp farming in Thailand.

May 29 (IPS) – Build a shrimp farm in Thailand by cutting down mangrove forests and you will net about 8,000 dollars per hectare. Meanwhile, the destruction of the forest and pollution from the farm will result in a loss of ecosystems worth 35,000 dollars/ha per year.

This article is part one of a three-part series on natural capital and how future global prosperity and equity can be achieved through the preservation of ecosystems. See Part Two: Global Warming is Real But I didn’t Do It    Part Three: How to Kick-Start the 21st Century Eco-Economy

Many leading development institutions and policy-makers still fail to understand that this ruthless exploitation for short-term profits could trigger an Enron-like collapse of “Earth, Inc.”, experts say.

For example, the World Bank and other economic development agencies would happily loan a shrimp farmer 100,000 dollars to clear more mangroves. Continue reading

Hurricane Katrina Only Cat 1/2 When It Hit New Orleans – NOAA

hurricane-rita-noaanasa.pngAfter a recent trip to New Orleans an environmental expert was astonished to learn that Hurricane Katrina was not a powerful hurricane when it struck New Orleans in 2005

While not widely covered by the mainstream media the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its final data analysis in late Dec 2005 that Katrina was only a Cat 1 or 2 on landfall.

In an overview written for IPS on Jan 11/06 I wrote:

Hurricane Katrina was the worst U.S. natural or environmental disaster ever, and a new analysis of the storm by NOAA’s National Hurricane Centre released in late December reveals some chilling, overlooked details. Perhaps most stunning of those is that more than 4,000 people are still missing nearly four months after Katrina’s landfall in late August. The official death toll is 1,336 people.

But the most worrisome is that Katrina was not a particularly powerful storm on landfall. While it was of Category 5 strength briefly while out in the Gulf of Mexico, new data reveals that its winds were in the Category 1 or 2 class when it struck New Orleans. What Katrina did generate was an enormous storm surge topping 27 feet, sweeping inland some six miles in places. Katrina’s “tsunami” is what resulted in the flooding of 80 percent of New Orleans, and massive destruction along the Gulf Coast.
Such storm surges are bound to worsen with rising sea levels.

See More Unnatural Disasters on the Horizon for rest of story.

Steve’s Hurricane Handbook 2008
25-page eBook a collection of the best bits from 4 years of articles on science of hurricanes and global warming. Arranged chronologically, the scientific story about hurricanes and climate change becomes increasingly evident. Colour pix of hurricane devastation.

Get links to my latest articles once a week.

See other hurricane stories:

First Ever: Two Hurricane Landfalls on Same Day – Pix

Hurricane Felix Category Five — Pix

Flying Blind Into a Monster Hurricane Season

New Data Erases Doubt on Storms and Warming

Cancer Rates Soaring – Common Toxic Chemicals Responsible

shodou-calligraphy.gifIn the 45 years since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring warning of the toxic affects of pesticides and industrial chemicals cancer rates have soared. In 2007, nearly half of all North American men and close to 40 per cent of women will be diagnosed with a malignant cancer at some point in life according to this article in the Toronto Star Winning the War on Cancer.

Despite the clear linkages to cancer and availability of new non-toxic Green Chemicals, use of toxic chemicals in North America skyrockets. Without strict regulations and national objectives to eliminate all toxic chemicals as Sweden is doing, you, me, our children and other family members and friends will continue to get cancer.

Governments will not act on this unless hundreds of thousands of people force them to.

A very important national conference on this issue called Cancer: It’s About Prevention, It’s About Time  was held May 24-27 in Ottawa.

New Book on cancer prevention by avoiding toxic chemicals: Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic by Liz Armstrong, Guy Dauncey & Anne Wordsworth

Go if you can, buy the book, support the coalition which is made up of volunteers.

We are Undermining Life on Earth — World Biodiversity Day (May 22)

Putting a Human Face on Biodiversity
By Stephen Leahy

Credit:Courtesy of CBD

Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

May 21 (Tierramérica) – Biodiversity is what sustains life on Earth, but we are on the verge of the sixth mass extinction of species in the planet’s history, Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, told Tierramérica.

On the eve of World Biodiversity Day, May 22, Djoghlaf underscored that climate change is creating conditions to which plant and animal life cannot react to quickly enough. In turn, the loss of species will aggravate global warming, creating a vicious cycle.

TIERRAMÉRICA: What is the link between climate change and biodiversity?

AHMED DJOGHLAF: Species cannot respond fast enough to changing climatic conditions. The warming oceans are having a tremendous impact on coral reefs and plankton, crucial to marine biodiversity. And combined with over-fishing, this means fish stocks will be effectively wiped out by 2048, recent research shows. That will affect the livelihoods of many millions of people. Continue reading

No More Lions, Tigers or Bears in a Warmer World (and two steps to keep that from happening)

The really awful predications about rapid, massive extinction appear to be true” Jeremy Kerr, University of Ottawa

“Unless we do something there will be no tigers, lions or bears left in the wild for my grandchildren” Stuart Pimm, Duke University

Scientists Foresee Extinction Domino Effect
By Stephen Leahy


Sri Lankan monkey with its young.

May 17 (IPS) – Climate change is accelerating species extinctions and unraveling the intricate web of life, experts fear.

Birds, animals, insects and even plants are on the move around the Earth, trying to flee new and increasingly inhospitable local weather conditions. For some, including alpine species and polar bears, there is nowhere to go. And many others, like plants, lack the mobility to stay ahead of changing climatic conditions.

“We’re already seeing species moving, but they’re not moving fast enough to avoid potential extinction,” says Jeremy Kerr, an ecologist at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

“The really awful predications about rapid, massive extinction appear to be true, according to the early evidence,” Kerr told IPS.

One of those predictions came last year from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), an unprecedented international four-year research effort. The MA warned that up to 30 percent of all species on Earth could vanish by 2050 due to unsustainable human activities. Continue reading

Ocean No Longer Taking As Much CO2 (and why that’s bad news)

Coral Sea Copyright 2004 Renate LeahySouthern Ocean Nears CO2 Saturation Point
By Stephen Leahy

May 17 (IPS) – Climate change has arrested the Southern Ocean’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, researchers announced Thursday.

That will make it more difficult to stabilise carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere and to reduce the risks of extreme forms of global warming.

The Southern Ocean has been absorbing less CO2 from the atmosphere since 1981, even though levels have increased 40 percent due to burning of fossil fuels. Oceans absorb half of all human carbon emissions, but the Southern Ocean is taking up less and less and is reaching its saturation point, reported an international research team in the journal Science.

This is the first evidence of the long-feared positive feedbacks that could rapidly accelerate the rate of climate change, pushing impacts to the extreme end of the scale.

“This is serious. All climate models predict that this kind of feedback will continue and intensify during this century,” said Corinne Le Quere of Britain’s University of East Anglia and the paper’s lead author. Continue reading

US Generals Say Warming Poses Major Security Threat

US Military Panel Calls Warming a Major Threat
By Stephen Leahy

May 15 (IPS) – Senior retired military officers in the United States are urging immediate action on climate change to avoid a massive upsurge in regional and global instability that could threaten their country’s security.

Climate change is a “threat multiplier”, said 11 retired three- and four-star U.S. generals and admirals who make up a military advisory board put together by the non-profit CNA Corporation. They warned Monday that many Asian, African and Middle Eastern nations could fail, opening the door for terrorists and drawing the U.S. into a variety of new conflicts.
Continue reading

Destroying Canada’s Forests for America’s Oil

“Nowhere else in the world where this much money is being invested”

cover 2.0**REVISED** Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest:

The Environmental Cost of Canada’s Oil Sands

An eBook by Stephen Leahy

Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest is a 30-page eBook presenting a factual overview of the environmental impacts of pumping more than 1.1 million barrels of oil — 175 million litres (50 million gallons) — each day to thirsty US markets.

Based on a 4-part investigative journalism series, leading scientific and environmental experts along with industry officials are interviewed.

Recipe for making a make a gallon of gasoline from the oil sands:

  • burn 1500 cubic feet of natural gas
  • use up 700 litres of water
  • dig up two tonnes of earth and rock
  • dump 948 litres (250 gallons) of mine tailings

And that’s just the beginning – now the crude has to be processed.

Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest   includes pictures of the destruction of virgin boreal forest, links to access additional information, and a peek at a new economic study that shows oil company profits are subsidized by not having to pay for their pollution.

Download your copy of the updated 2009 version 2.1 today for only $3.75
Oil Stains in the Boreal Forest: The Environmental Cost of Canada’s Oil Sands 2.1

eBook -Version 2.1 (2009) – full-color, 8 1/2 x 11″,  30 pages   (14 mb pdf download) 

Learn more about the author



The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering

This fabulous Mothers Day idea was posted by a enviro writer and friend Suzanne Elston at her gorgeous blog Your Earth.

“On a buffety, blustery early summer day, when the news was bad and the sky turned yellow, a strange thing happened in the town where I live.”

Two grandmothers take a stand in a local park with the single goal of saving the world. They don’t speak, they don’t act, they merely stand silently all day until people begin to ask what they are doing. While some laugh, other begin standing with them, until across the country thousands upon thousands of women – grandmothers, mothers and daughters, stand together. United and silent.
Continue reading