10 Worst Places on Earth – 2007

linfen-coalminer.jpgWorst Places on Earth Are Home to Millions
By Stephen Leahy

Sep 12 (IPS) – Rapidly industrialising India and China have claimed four of the top 10 most polluted places on the planet for the first time, according to a report by U.S. and European environmental groups.

In 2006, Russia topped the list with the three sites in the top 10, but this year, two very large toxic sites affecting hundreds of thousands of people in India and China were included that had been missed in the previous global survey, said Richard Fuller, director of the New York- based Blacksmith Institute, a independent environmental group that released the list Sep. 12 report in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland.

“We were surprised these sites had not been reported before,” Fuller told IPS.

One is Tianjin in the Anhui Province of China, which produces about 50 percent of the country’s lead, often from low-level and illegal production facilities. A lack of environmental enforcement has resulted in severe lead poisoning, with soil and homes contaminated at levels 10 to 24 times China’s national standards.

Up to 140,000 people may be affected, suffering from brain damage and mental retardation. Continue reading

Lifespans: Americans 80 years and rising; Africans 40 and falling

esc-cover.pngMedical Research Hits Cultural Roadblocks
By Stephen Leahy

The lifespan of a U.S. citizen is 80 and rising while an African’s is 40 and falling.
“That is the mother of all ethical challenges for the world to grapple with,” said Peter Singer of McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health in Toronto.

Sep 11 (IPS) – Many new medical technologies to improve the lives of people in the global South fail to be adopted not because of the costs but because of ethical, social and cultural issues, a new study reveals.

These issues include community and public engagement, cultural acceptability and gender, according to the comprehensive study featuring interviews with leading health experts in developing countries and published Monday in the U.S. peer-reviewed online journal PLoS Medicine.

Improper consultation with affected communities resulted in public pressure to end to medical trials of tenofovir, an antiviral medication used to treat HIV, in Cambodia, Cameroon, and Nigeria. In that instance, the community was commercial sex workers who weren’t properly consulted and would not benefit from the trials. Continue reading

Wildlife Vanishing from African Game Parks

AFRICA: Game Parks Offering Protection in Name Only?
By Stephen Leahy

“If the international community increased funding by 10 times then there is hope. But I don’t think that’s realistic,” said Paul Scholte of the Institute of Environmental Science at Leiden University


Sep 8 (IPS) – The sharp decline of Africa’s abundant wildlife is now happening inside the continent’s protected areas, a new analysis indicates. Africa’s world renowned parks are destined to become isolated pockets of wilderness with few large animals left, as is the case in Europe, conclude the authors of an article in the current edition of the ‘African Journal of Ecology’.

“It is not a pleasant conclusion,” said Paul Scholte, co-author of the article, and a researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“Where we have good data, there are dramatic declines in wildlife inside parks and protected areas,” he told IPS. “It was a shock. The declines are far worse than we expected.” Continue reading

Greenland Ice Collapse Producing Earthquakes

isfjorden-ved-jakobshavn-ilulissat.pngChilling from-the-scene update on my Greenland on Verge of Meltdown article in August: the Greenland ice cap is melting so quickly that it is triggering earthquakes as pieces of ice several cubic kilometres in size break off says Guardian reporter in Greenland.

Here is a satellite view of Lulissat, Vestgronland Greenland just pan and zoom to the upper glacier to see the meltwater on the ice (not sure when this satellite pic was taken)
View Larger Map

Related stories:

The Earth is Going Dark Scientists Say
US Generals Say Warming Poses Major Security Threat

Climate Panel Report Called Too Conservative

Food Additives Make Kids Hyperactive – Organic Better?

My articles documenting studies on benefits of organic foods/agriculture i.e. Overweight? Hungry? Blame “Hollow Food” and Organic Agriculture Reduces Climate Change, Poverty and Hunger generate strong opinions for and against.

Here’s a Time magazine piece about a carefully designed study released Thursday in The Lancet, a leading British medical journal. A variety of common food dyes and the preservative sodium benzoate — an ingredient in many soft drinks, fruit juices, salad dressings and other foods — causes some children to become more hyperactive than usual it found.

First Ever: Two Hurricane Landfalls on Same Day – Pix

Yesterday was the first time Atlantic and Pacific hurricanes have made landfall on the same day. Here is an super picture of both Felix and Henriette by

NASA (high resolution pix here):


Can only hope and pray that damage from these massive storms is minimal.

Check Reuters AlertNet for various emergency assistance agencies that are sending aid to these areas and for information updates.

To learn more about modern hurricanes and the potential link to climate change check out Steve’s Hurricane Handbook 2007. This is a compendium of the most interesting quotes and facts about hurricanes from scientists and other experts since 2004. You can download this collection free of charge but nothing is truly free. Donations appreciated

Future Belongs to the Shrub

picture-3.png 21st Century May Belong to the Shrub
By Stephen Leahy

Sep 1 (IPS) – As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to climb shrubs and other woody plants will likely dominate grasslands, altering pastoral lifestyles around the world, a U.S. study has found.

In the first experiment of its kind done on native grassland, U.S. scientists artificially doubled carbon dioxide (CO2) levels over enclosed sections of prairie in Colorado, a state in the western United States, for five years. To their surprise, one shrub species, Artemisia frigida — commonly known as fringed sage — thrived under those conditions. In fact, it grew 40 times faster than normal, dominating other plant species.

“This kind of response to higher CO2 levels is almost unprecedented,” said Jack Morgan, a plant physiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and lead author of the study, published Aug. 28 in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences‘ (PNAS), a science journal.

“Fringed sage is a minor species on the landscape normally. We were not expecting to see this,” Morgan told IPS.

Continue reading

Hurricane Felix Category Five — Pix

picture-4.pngHurricane Felix, the second Cat 5 storm in two weeks is set to hit Central America Monday. Here’s a satellite image from NOAA:

Tues AM Update: Felix hits Nicaragua as Cat 5 — first time two Cat 5 storms have made landfall in one season.

To learn more about modern hurricanes and the potential link to climate change check out

Steve’s Hurricane Handbook 2007

This is a short ebook  contains a collection of the most interesting quotes and facts about hurricanes from scientists and other experts.