Saturday, August 28, 2010

Extreme Weather Warning

Fires. Floods. Freak storms. Droughts. Why it’s only going to get worse.

August 24, 2010
By Cathy Gulli and Tom Henheffer

his homeland, and burned alive dozens of his countrymen, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin boarded an amphibious aircraft to witness the blazes for himself. Within a few minutes of sitting in the passenger compartment, Putin—never one to resist a fight, or a photo op for that matter—strode briskly to the cockpit and assumed the co-pilot’s seat and headset. Upon direction, Putin, who doesn’t have his flying licence, swooped down and drew 12 tonnes of water from the Oka River, and then doused the scorching forests beneath, extinguishing two fires. All this in 30 minutes.

As superheroic as this act may have seemed, it fell drastically short: below, hundreds more raging fires were turning lush trees into charred toothpicks. At least 2,000 homes have burned down, including 341 in less than an hour. Survivors found nothing but scrap metal, which they gathered up to sell off. Farmers, meanwhile, have seen their grain crop cut by a third, and counting.

The only thing spreading faster than the fires is fear: that dangerous radioactive material on land contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster will be churned up, for instance. Experts insist that a far more realistic and deadly threat is the toxic smog that has blanketed Russia in a sepia haze ever since daily temperatures surged to 40° C and higher—hotter than it’s been there since the 11th century, the Russian weather service chief said. Government officials have warned that breathing the polluted air is like smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day, so Russians have taken to wearing those face masks ubiquitous to disasters, most recently the H1N1 scare. They’ve also retreated to the lakes to cool off, but even this activity has been lethal: swilling too much vodka before swimming led to more than 1,000 drownings in June alone, when the heat wave began.

Before then, “Russians would have laughed if you had asked them if this would happen,” says Ghassem R. Asrar, director of the World Climate Research Programme at the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.

Normal summer temperatures there hover in the low 20s in the hottest parts. Imagining the “Great Russian heat wave of 2010,” as this hot spell has been dubbed, would have been preposterous. “They’d have said it’s like being in Saudi Arabia,” Asrar told Maclean’s.

Except that even Saudi Arabia’s weather has been extraordinary this summer, with temperatures reaching above 47° C. In fact, record heat has occurred in 17 countries, including Pakistan, where on May 26, the mercury hit 53.5° C—suffocating four people to death. Since then, the heat has given way to the unthinkable: catastrophic floods, which have killed at least 1,600 Pakistanis and ruined the homes and livelihoods of more than 20 million others. There are concerns of a cholera outbreak, and the country is now facing a shortage of drinking water. The UN, which has appealed for $460 million in immediate international aid, has called this the greatest humanitarian crisis in history—more devastating than the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami, the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and the Haiti earthquake combined. The funds have been slow in coming, though, and some worry that the Taliban will step in instead. Worse still, there is no end in sight: forecasters warn more floods are coming, and urge “all the concerned authorities... to take necessary precautionary measures to avoid/minimize loss of lives and infrastructure.”

Photo: Floods: Residents being evacuated through flood waters dodge an army truck carrying relief supplies for flood victims in Pakistan’s Muzaffargarh district in Punjab province August 11, 2010. (Reuters /Adrees Latif)

On the spectrum of extreme weather, Pakistan and Russia are obviously the worst effected. But new data shows that the whole world is experiencing unprecedented levels of radical weather. In June, the global land and ocean average surface temperature was the hottest it’s been since 1880, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States began keeping records. And July was the 305th consecutive month that the global temperature was above average, meaning the last time the mercury dipped unusually low was in February 1985.

Even Canada’s distinction as a moderate country hasn’t safeguarded us from outrageous weather patterns: heat waves in Ontario and Quebec have caused power outages this summer and sent a record 158 people to one Ottawa ER in a single day. Hundreds of wildfires are engulfing portions of British Columbia. And after severe droughts in the spring, the Prairies have been flooded.

If this strange and severe weather was once hard to imagine, it’s now hard to ignore. “Extreme events are becoming more common,” says Heidi Cullen, a climatologist based in Princeton, N.J., and author of the new book, The Weather of the Future. What is happening in Russia and Pakistan may not feel like a real threat to North America, but she says “it should feel real.” As the Earth continues to heat up, “who is to say that couldn’t happen in Canada or the United States?” Cullen asks. “It will happen eventually.” Asrar agrees. “We will see more extremes, and they’ll last longer and be very strong.” In other words, he says, in the future “anything is possible.”

Photo: Heatwave: Children cool off in a inflatable pool on the street in Brooklyn, New York. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

To understand how extreme weather is becoming more common, scientists start by looking back. Over the last 100 years, the global average temperature has steadily increased by a little more than 1° F. That doesn’t seem like much. But if a typical day is going to be warmer, then the heat waves will be as well. This also affects storm activity: the hotter it gets, the more heat the oceans absorb. The heat evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapour. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold air, so once the atmosphere is saturated, it dumps exceptional amounts of rain.

Using computer models, scientists from 20 climate centres around the world have forecast that by the end of the century, the Earth’s temperature will increase by at least 2° F. “When you add it up over the entire planet, that’s a huge amount of heat,” says Asrar. It’s also an average, he emphasizes. “This warming is not going to be uniform globally, and the problems that we’re going to experience are going to [vary] by region.”

A quick scan of extreme weather events around the world since the beginning of the year is proof of that. Since late July, Portugal has been battling 300 forest fires a day after experiencing a severe heat wave, including one blaze that has ravaged the country’s only national park and others that killed two firefighters. In the spring, 80 people died in New Delhi after temperatures reached 44° C, a 52-year high. Australia was overrun with floods and landslides in March after a freak storm cut power to 100,000 homes.

Photo: Fires: More than 700 firefighters and soldiers are trying to extinguish dozens of forest fires in Portugal after temperatures rose up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in several areas in the country. (Reuters/Rafael Marchante)

That same month, China experienced its worst drought in six decades—50 million people faced water shortages. Avalanches killed 150 Afghans in February, while 32 Brazilians died of heat that month after the country endured its hottest temperatures in half a century. Snowstorms that hit the United States—nicknamed “Snowmageddon” by Barack Obama, who traded his armoured limo for an all-wheel-drive SUV—caused such a chill in Florida that iguanas and pythons were falling frozen and catatonic from trees.

The cold also shrunk orange crops, and boosted the price of OJ.

In much of Canada, temperatures this summer have been the hottest in more than 60 years. In Victoria, where a typical summer high is 22° C, thermometers now register in the low 30s. That heat has put two-thirds of B.C. at high risk of forest fires as of mid-August. Battling the blazes has cost $107 million so far, and firefighters from Ontario and Alberta have been dispatched to help out. In New Brunswick, where it’s also been unusually hot, the number of forest fires is actually down, thanks largely to the extreme humidity. It’s also made Toronto’s 17 days of 30° C weather or higher—up from just three days last summer—feel much steamier.

The situation couldn’t be more different for Calgary, which in mid-July experienced a sudden storm that caused at least $100,000 worth of damage at the University of Calgary greenhouse after hail the size of golf balls burst through the glass rooftop. Last week, the Insurance Board of Canada announced that the property damage caused by the storm—dented cars, broken windows, leaky roofs—could top $400 million, more than any other hailstorm in the nation’s history. The excess precipitation occurring across the Prairies has also cost grain farmers money: Saskatchewan and Manitoba could lose up to $3 billion this year, according to a BMO Capital Markets report, since 20 per cent of crops never got planted this season.

Photo: Snowstorms: Washington, D.C., was crippled by a blizzard this past winter—nicknamed “Snowmageddon” by President Obama

Going forward, there is little doubt that Canada will experience more severe weather, says David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada. “In a warmer world, you connect the dots and you see clearly there are going to be threats.” But he emphasizes that there are parameters around what we should expect. “A lot of people think that we’ll have a totally different climate. It’s not going to be like typhoons in Saskatoon and sandstorms in St. John’s.” Rather, he says, “things that are rare will become more common. The kind of flood that you might expect every 20 years will occur maybe once every seven years. So it’s the frequency, the intensity, the duration” that will change.

A group of 250 leading scientists at a climate change consortium called Ouranos in Montreal have been using computer models to predict what, specifically, each part of Canada may soon experience as the Earth heats up. In the Maritimes, for example, the big concern is probably going to be coastal erosion and more intense hurricanes as air and ocean temperatures increase. Of the four or five that arrive on the East Coast every year, most are subdued by the very cold Atlantic Ocean, explains Alain Bourque, head of the impact and adaptation group at Ouranos. “You need a water temperature of above 26° C to strengthen a hurricane, and the maritime water is well below that now. But the point is that if instead of being 10° C it’s 12° C, then the hurricane is not stopped as easily.”

Ontario and southern Quebec will likely experience more heat waves—including during the winter. The good news is less snow to shovel, but the bad news is more risk of winter flooding. The mounting heat will also cause more freeze-thaw cycles as temperatures fluctuate. That puts tremendous strain on roads and bridges, says Bourque, and causes another major problem that we’ll see more of: burst pipes.

In the Prairies, more droughts are anticipated, he continues, and on the West Coast, rising sea levels will make the region particularly vulnerable to floods and tidal forces. Places such as Vancouver, Richmond and communities along the Delta River feature “hot spots where the land and infrastructure are at risk of storms [causing] damage,” and that’s worrisome given the large population concentrated in this area.

Photo: Wildfires: A helicopter douses flames at the Pelican Complex fire, north of Nazko, B.C., Aug. 15, 2010. (Canadian Press /HO, B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range – Mitch Miller)

Elsewhere in the world, Bangladesh is expected to be hit hard. Today, two-thirds of the country is only 17 feet above sea level, explains Cullen in her book. With 230 rivers, and 162 million inhabitants, this densely populated area is already prone to floods and monsoons. A 3.3-foot increase in sea level would submerge one-fifth of Bangladesh, estimates Cullen. “Almost every study agrees that at least 20 per cent of the country will disappear in the next decades,” adds Bourque. “In an already overpopulated country, you can imagine what’s going to happen there.”

Realizing this, many Bangladeshis are already fast becoming “climate refugees,” fleeing to nearby India. But even India may not be an extreme-weather safe haven—it is plagued by monsoons. “The scientists there have seen that over the last 50 years, their strength and duration have grown,” explains Asrar. And there’s every reason to believe this trend will persist to be “a major problem.”

Of course, these projections are just that: early estimations that scientists are still developing. The big riddle is exactly what that 2° F average global increase will mean for different parts of the world. So far, indications suggest that the high latitudes will be more affected than mid or lower latitudes. How much more? Asrar points to colour-coded maps by the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies that project that places such as Canada to Russia and the pole regions may see double the amount of warming, or even triple. One thing is certain: no place is immune to extreme weather. As these events become more evident around the world, Cullen believes that we will realize the importance of figuring out how to deal with them—before they occur. Because right now, she says, “we are not prepared for the curveballs that Mother Nature throws our way.”

The obvious question facing communities today is how to adjust to extreme weather in ways that will cause the least amount of destruction to people, property and possessions. It’s a daunting challenge, but a number of communities have, in recent years, launched action plans to investigate their vulnerabilities and to brainstorm solutions. “Every community has its own Achilles heel,” says Cullen.

Photo: Landslides: a woman mourns her missing relatives in the landslide-hit Zhouqu County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu Province August 10, 2010. (Reuters/Aly Song)

After New York City learned last year that it would be prone to more heat waves, rain and flooding in the future, Rockaway waste water treatment plant in Queens decided it wouldn’t wait for disaster to arrive.

Instead, working in conjunction with the local department of environmental protection, the plant’s electrical equipment, including breakers and pump motors, were moved—from 25 feet below sea level to 14 feet above sea level.

Cities such as Vancouver have a combined sewer system that manages both sanitary waste and stormwater. A 2008 report by Ouranos and Engineers Canada found that by 2020, the Greater Vancouver sewage infrastructure will be vulnerable to increased rainfall, rising sea levels, floods, extreme winds and gusts. The report warned of the “public health risks from contamination arising from overflows?.?.?.?into spaces such as streets and basements.” Now, the city is planning to move to a sewer system that will allow different types of waste water flowing in separate pipes by 2050—to the tune of $2.75 billion over the next 10 years.

Where people live in flood-prone zones, governments are mobilizing to relocate residents. Manitoba, Minnesota and North Dakota, for instance, have buyouts in place for people who live along the banks of the Red River. In the past, Manitoba has paid pre-flood market value for 42 cottages in Breezy Point, and the prices were shared between the three levels of government. Other cities such as Calgary are implementing better heating and air conditioning in places that are susceptible to extreme temperatures, such as streetcars.

In Halifax, the government spent $250,000 to map its harbour and the surrounding area with a plane-mounted light imaging technology called LIDAR. The data is used to predict rising sea levels and will help developers manage their risk due to flooding and hurricanes over the next century. Meanwhile, in Toronto, $34 million has been allotted toward tree-planting and green roofs—which provide shade and absorb greenhouse gases. There are also “man-made trees” in development, which look like futuristic football goalposts that suck greenhouse gases out of the air.

Photo: Fires: Smog in Red Square from forest fires ( Dmitry Lebedev/ Kommersant)

The unfortunate reality is that “even if we stopped emitting [greenhouse gases] cold turkey, we’d still see warming because they remain in the environment for a long time,” says Cullen. What’s more, most of these improvements are expensive—for those countries that can afford them in the first place—and will take years to fully implement. After that, they might still be no match for what Phillips of Environment Canada calls “the awesome power of Mother Nature” unleashed.

In a lot of ways, until now Canada has been fortunate. For starters, because we have four seasons, we are accustomed to adapting to the ever-changing weather and temperatures, says Phillips. We also have a small population and low density, “so the fact is, nature can’t find you” the way it might pick on people in Bangladesh. “Of all the disasters we’ve had every year, every one of them could have been worse.

What continues to surprise me is why there are not more deaths due to weather in Canada,” he says.

But the longer people insist on living in places where they shouldn’t—think Louisiana or even some small coastal communities in Canada—and the more we delay improving infrastructure and mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases, the more danger is lurking. This means that the cost of extreme weather is going to go up, in terms of material damage—and loss of life. “It’s what I fear the most,” says Phillips. “We are going to be in nature’s way.” As more extreme weather arrives here, “Our luck is going to change.”

For now, Canadians and just about everyone outside of Pakistan and Russia are getting schooled second-hand in the drama and trauma that could affect them next. “We will all feel the impact,” says Cullen. “The world is very interconnected.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Are We Witnessing the Death of Our Planet?

Are We Witnessing the Death of Our Planet?

Howard Beale
Activist Post

It seems that we are witnessing the death of our planet right before our very eyes. The extreme weather, Gulf oil disaster and use of deadly dispersants, to decades of agrichemical and synthetic medicines leeching into water ways, and general human pollution resulting in having to now map the North Atlantic Garbage Patch (not to be confused with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) -- has resulted in major breaches to our interdependent life system.

 Here are a few recently-reported disturbing indicators that our life support system may be nearing critical condition:
  •  Hundreds-of-thousands of dead fish washing up on the Northeast shores of the U.S.
  • Millions of fish and thousands of alligators, turtles, dolphins and other river wildlife died during a record cold snap in South America.
  • Fifty whales dying in New Zealand.
  • Bee colonies dying off in staggering numbers.
  • Extreme weather severely damaging global food output at a time when the population is booming.

 Do the controllers not see how it is all connected? Do they not care? Or was the circle of life meant to be broken? Either way, it is foolish to think humanity will not be intimately effected by these recent catastrophes, with more approaching. Incidentally, the elite Rockefeller Foundation predicts this will be the "Doom Decade."

Many scientists, philosophers, and religious leaders have long predicted apocalyptic events in the near future, yet some of these figureheads surely knew the true nature of our profound interconnectedness. The world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking's recent declaration that humanity must "abandon earth or face extinction" is the modern equivalent to ancient prophecies.

So, it stands to reason that if they know a certain cause will have a certain effect -- especially as it pertains to our environment -- then predicting the cumulative effect becomes quite simple, even obvious.

Is it much of a stretch then to believe that Earth's demise could be engineered by those with the resources to do so? Or, perhaps, it is simply a natural Earth cycle trying to cleanse itself in an epic battle between Mother Nature and Humanity.

There may be too many variables to blame a specific event or establishment for the festering disease that endangers our planet, but evidence is mounting that Humanity's current course will ultimately destroy our life-giving habitat. In other words, if the vital links in the food chain are broken, as the oceans and the bees die off, then surely many human deaths will follow.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Could 2011 be the Year without Summer?

By Tom Rowan

26 July 2010 - (Excerpts) - It happened in 1816 and is bound to happen again.

In 1816 the northern hemisphere suffered through the year without summer. During the previous winter the Mt Tambora volcano erupted. Thousands froze to death due to the bitter cold the atmospheric ash clouds created.

Frost killed most of the early crops as late as May that year in North America. Frost and snow killed even crops more in June. Riots, arson, and looting flared up in Europe as common food stores became scarce. Lake and river ice were recorded in Pennsylvania in July and August. 1816 also was a year of historic low solar activity as measured by 1816 era telescopes counting sunspots.

All the stars, including our own, are aligning for a repeat performance by Mother Nature.

Consider. Even with 21st century telescopes we can see that the sun is only producing tiny sun specks and weak sunspots. The northern hemisphere has experienced 3 years in a row of record breaking cold winters and snow fall. It snowed in all 50 States last winter. As in 1816, Canada and the rest of North America are experiencing record rainfalls this summer. Much of the Canadian harvest has been lost due to flooding. Some of the ski slopes in the western US reopened in July. Today, South America is experiencing a brutally cold winter killing farmers along with their livestock. It snowed in the Amazon. For two years in a row it has snowed in Australia during summertime.

And Katla is well past due to blow her top.

See entire great article:

Thanks to Alan Caruba and Tom Rowan for this link

Cold temperatures cause death, damage in South America

By the CNN Wire Staff
July 20, 2010 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)

(CNN) -- An intense cold front in southern Latin America continues to blanket the region, causing deaths, school and highway closures, and other woes.

A total of 18 people have died in Bolivia as a direct or indirect consequence of low temperatures, the Peruvian state-run Andina news agency reported. The deaths were spread out throughout the country.

On Monday, Bolivian officials said temperatures in the major city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra would reach 3 C (37 F), the lowest in 29 years, and in other regions the mercury dropped below freezing, Andina reported.

As a precaution, Bolivian authorities canceled school from Monday to Wednesday, the official Bolivian news agency ABI reported.

Police in Paraguay reported eight deaths from hypothermia and two from carbon monoxide poisoning from the use of heating devices. The government opened shelters for the poor, who are picked up at night by military trucks.

Paraguayan authorities also estimated that 1,000 cattle died because of the cold.

In Uruguay, local media reported two weather-related fatalities.

The cold front hit the region on Saturday and was responsible for eight deaths in Argentina over the weekend.

An area of low pressure in the southern hemisphere jet stream pushed deeper north allowing for cold Antarctic air to pool over Chile and Argentina. Below-normal temperatures are expected over the next 48 hours across the region.

Argentina reported Monday that nine of its provinces were feeling temperatures below freezing.

The intense cold will remain in the area at least through Tuesday, Argentina's official news agency, Telam, reported.

Similarly, in Peru, the country's southern Amazon region was experiencing the coldest weather in three years, Andina reported, citing the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service.

In the city of Puerto Maldonado, the temperatures fell to 9 C (48 F). In the Amazon region, the usual lows are in the 20s C (high-60s F).

The cold was also affecting farmers in the Peruvian city of Arequipa, in the Andes Mountains. With temperatures falling there to -17 C (1 F), the cold was too much for the region's Alpaca herds.

Pregnant Alpacas were losing their babies, and young Alpacas were dying, Andina reported. Some 10 percent of the region's 40,000 Alpacas were affected, the news agency reported.

A Super Solar Flare

May 6, 2008: At 11:18 AM on the cloudless morning of Thursday, September 1, 1859, 33-year-old Richard Carrington—widely acknowledged to be one of England's foremost solar astronomers—was in his well-appointed private observatory. Just as usual on every sunny day, his telescope was projecting an 11-inch-wide image of the sun on a screen, and Carrington skillfully drew the sunspots he saw.

Right: Sunspots sketched by Richard Carrington on Sept. 1, 1859. Copyright: Royal Astronomical Society: more.
On that morning, he was capturing the likeness of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of blinding white light appeared over the sunspots, intensified rapidly, and became kidney-shaped. Realizing that he was witnessing something unprecedented and "being somewhat flurried by the surprise," Carrington later wrote, "I hastily ran to call someone to witness the exhibition with me. On returning within 60 seconds, I was mortified to find that it was already much changed and enfeebled." He and his witness watched the white spots contract to mere pinpoints and disappear.
It was 11:23 AM. Only five minutes had passed.
Just before dawn the next day, skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.

Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

"What Carrington saw was a white-light solar flare—a magnetic explosion on the sun," explains David Hathaway, solar physics team lead at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Now we know that solar flares happen frequently, especially during solar sunspot maximum. Most betray their existence by releasing X-rays (recorded by X-ray telescopes in space) and radio noise (recorded by radio telescopes in space and on Earth). In Carrington's day, however, there were no X-ray satellites or radio telescopes. No one knew flares existed until that September morning when one super-flare produced enough light to rival the brightness of the sun itself.
"It's rare that one can actually see the brightening of the solar surface," says Hathaway. "It takes a lot of energy to heat up the surface of the sun!"

Left: A modern solar flare recorded Dec. 5, 2006, by the X-ray Imager onboard NOAA's GOES-13 satellite. The flare was so intense, it actually damaged the instrument that took the picture. Researchers believe Carrington's flare was much more energetic than this one.
The explosion produced not only a surge of visible light but also a mammoth cloud of charged particles and detached magnetic loops—a "CME"—and hurled that cloud directly toward Earth. The next morning when the CME arrived, it crashed into Earth's magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Researchers call this a "geomagnetic storm." Rapidly moving fields induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph lines and disrupted communications.
"More than 35 years ago, I began drawing the attention of the space physics community to the 1859 flare and its impact on telecommunications," says Louis J. Lanzerotti, retired Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories and current editor of the journal Space Weather. He became aware of the effects of solar geomagnetic storms on terrestrial communications when a huge solar flare on August 4, 1972, knocked out long-distance telephone communication across Illinois. That event, in fact, caused AT&T to redesign its power system for transatlantic cables. A similar flare on March 13, 1989, provoked geomagnetic storms that disrupted electric power transmission from the Hydro Québec generating station in Canada, blacking out most of the province and plunging 6 million people into darkness for 9 hours; aurora-induced power surges even melted power transformers in New Jersey. In December 2005, X-rays from another solar storm disrupted satellite-to-ground communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation signals for about 10 minutes. That may not sound like much, but as Lanzerotti noted, "I would not have wanted to be on a commercial airplane being guided in for a landing by GPS or on a ship being docked by GPS during that 10 minutes."
 Right: Power transformers damaged by the March 13, 1989, geomagnetic storm: more.
Another Carrington-class flare would dwarf these events. Fortunately, says Hathaway, they appear to be rare:
"In the 160-year record of geomagnetic storms, the Carrington event is the biggest." It's possible to delve back even farther in time by examining arctic ice. "Energetic particles leave a record in nitrates in ice cores," he explains. "Here again the Carrington event sticks out as the biggest in 500 years and nearly twice as big as the runner-up."
These statistics suggest that Carrington flares are once in a half-millennium events. The statistics are far from solid, however, and Hathaway cautions that we don't understand flares well enough to rule out a repeat in our lifetime.
And what then?
Lanzerotti points out that as electronic technologies have become more sophisticated and more embedded into everyday life, they have also become more vulnerable to solar activity. On Earth, power lines and long-distance telephone cables might be affected by auroral currents, as happened in 1989. Radar, cell phone communications, and GPS receivers could be disrupted by solar radio noise. Experts who have studied the question say there is little to be done to protect satellites from a Carrington-class flare. In fact, a recent paper estimates potential damage to the 900-plus satellites currently in orbit could cost between $30 billion and $70 billion. The best solution, they say: have a pipeline of comsats ready for launch.
Humans in space would be in peril, too. Spacewalking astronauts might have only minutes after the first flash of light to find shelter from energetic solar particles following close on the heels of those initial photons. Their spacecraft would probably have adequate shielding; the key would be getting inside in time.
No wonder NASA and other space agencies around the world have made the study and prediction of flares a priority. Right now a fleet of spacecraft is monitoring the sun, gathering data on flares big and small that may eventually reveal what triggers the explosions. SOHO, Hinode, STEREO, ACE and others are already in orbit while new spacecraft such as the Solar Dynamics Observatory are readying for launch.
Research won't prevent another Carrington flare, but it may make the "flurry of surprise" a thing of the past.


Methane in Gulf "Astonishingly High": U.S. Scientist

June 22, 2010
Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - As much as 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, enough to potentially deplete oxygen and create a dead zone, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.

Texas A&M University oceanography professor John Kessler, just back from a 10-day research expedition near the BP Plc oil spill in the gulf, says methane gas levels in some areas are "astonishingly high."

Kessler's crew took measurements of both surface and deep water within a 5-mile (8 kilometer) radius of BP's broken wellhead.

"There is an incredible amount of methane in there," Kessler told reporters in a telephone briefing.
In some areas, the crew of 12 scientists found concentrations that were 100,000 times higher than normal.
"We saw them approach a million times above background concentrations" in some areas, Kessler said.

The scientists were looking for signs that the methane gas had depleted levels of oxygen dissolved in the water needed to sustain marine life.

"At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters. We need to determine why that is," he told the briefing.

Methane occurs naturally in sea water, but high concentrations can encourage the growth of microbes that gobble up oxygen needed by marine life.

Kessler said oxygen depletions have not reached a critical level yet, but the oil is still spilling into the Gulf, now at a rate of as much as 60,000 barrels a day, according to U.S. government estimates.

"What is it going to look like two months down the road, six months down the road, two years down the road?" he asked.

Methane, a natural gas, dissolves in seawater and some scientists think measuring methane could give a more accurate picture of the extent of the oil spill. Kessler said his team has taken those measurements, and is hoping to have an estimate soon. "Give us about a week and we should have some preliminary numbers on that," he said.

(Editing by Maggie Fox)


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sign Post - Solar Activity

What's Wrong with the sun?
By Stuart Clark
Are we headed for a new little ice age?

14 Jun 10 - (Excerpts) - "For the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

"Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what?

"(Sunspots) form where giant loops of magnetism, generated deep inside the sun, well up and burst through the surface, leading to a localised drop in temperature which we see as a dark patch. Any changes in sunspot numbers reflect changes inside the sun.

"The latest solar cycle was supposed to be the most active on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun.

"(During 2008) the sun was spot-free 73 per cent of the time, an extreme dip even for a solar minimum. Only the minimum of 1913 was more pronounced, with 85 per cent of that year clear.

"As 2009 arrived, solar physicists looked for some action. They didn't get it. Again, the number of sunspots has so far been well below expectations.

"The extent to which changes in the sun's activity can affect our climate is of paramount concern. It is also highly controversial. There are those who seek to prove that the solar variability is the major cause of climate change (myself included). ... Others are equally evangelical in their assertions that the sun plays only a minuscule role in climate change.

"Mike Lockwood at the University of Reading, UK ... has studied records covering data stretching back to 1650, and found that severe European winters are much more likely during periods of low solar activity (New Scientist, 17 April, p 6).

"Another example is the Maunder minimum, the period from 1645 to 1715 during which sunspots virtually disappeared and solar activity plummeted ... ushering in a period known as the Little Ice Age.

"In 2008, Judith Lean of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC published a study showing that high solar activity has a disproportionate warming influence on northern Europe (Geophysical Research Letters, vol 35, p L18701).

"There is also evidence that the sun is inexorably losing its ability to produce sunspots (see "The sunspot forecast"). By 2015, they could be gone altogether, plunging us into a new Maunder minimum - and perhaps a new Little Ice Age.

"For decades, William Livingston at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, has been measuring the strength of the magnetic fields which puncture the sun's surface and cause the spots to develop. Last year, he and colleague Matt Penn pointed out that the average strength of sunspot magnetic fields has been sliding dramatically since 1995.

"If the trend continues, in just five years the field will have slipped below the threshold magnetic field needed for sunspots to form."

See entire article:

Thanks to Ty Weston, Bill Sellers, Benjamin Napier and Siroki for this link

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sign Post - 1 More Earthquakes and now sink holes too!

Final death toll from China quake almost 3,000, state news agency saysXinhua agency says 2,698 people killed and 270 still missing after earthquake devastated Yushu county last month, Monday 31 May 2010 records this article:

Nearly 3,000 people are dead or missing after a strong quake in north-west China last month, the official Xinhua agency said today as it gave a final death toll from the tremor.

The 14 April 2010 quake, which happened in the largely Tibetan Yushu county, killed 2,698 people, Xinhua quoted the vice-governor of Qinghai province, Zhang Guangrong, as saying. He said 270 people were still missing. The figures were a significant increase from previous tolls given by the government. Among the victims were 199 students and one Hong Kong resident, Zhang added. All but 11 of the dead had been identified, he said.
The magnitude 6.9 quake hit a remote, mountainous region and most of the dead were ethnic Tibetans in the devastated county seat, Gyegu.

Rescue efforts were complicated by poor transport links, difficult weather and freezing temperatures. China has allocated billions of yuan for reconstruction, with a three-year target for rebuilding homes, schools and roads, state media reported.

Watch the size and depth of the sinkhole
Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala CityHundreds dead as torrential rain sweeps Central America. Sinkhole in Guatemala swallows three-storey building

Tropical Storm Agatha blows a hole in Guatemala CityHundreds dead as torrential rain sweeps Central America. Sinkhole in Guatemala swallows three-storey building

(4956)Tweet this (894)Peter Walker The Guardian, Tuesday 1 June 2010 Article history

A sinkhole that swallowed a three-storey building in Guatemala City has been blamed on a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha and poor drainage systems. Photograph: Luis Echeverria/AP

Tropical Storm Agatha swept across Central America yesterday, bringing torrential rain that killed more than 100 people and opened a 60m-deep sinkhole in Guatemala City which reportedly swallowed up a three-storey building.

The first named storm of the 2010 Pacific season dumped more than a metre of rain in parts of Guatemala, also hitting El Salvador and Honduras. At least 113 people were reported killed, with around 50 missing in Guatemala alone as rescue workers searched through the rubble.

The 30m-diameter sinkhole opened up in a northern district of Guatemala City, with residents blaming the rains and substandard drainage systems. Local reports said one man was killed when the building was swallowed. In 2007, three people died when a similar sinkhole appeared in the same area.  Guatemala was the worst affected country, with a confirmed death toll of 92, although that is likely to rise when rescuers reach remote villages. Almost 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Nine people were confirmed killed in El Salvador and 12 in Honduras.

A sinkhole that swallowed a three-storey building in Guatemala City has been blamed on a combination of Tropical Storm Agatha and poor drainage systems. Photograph: Luis Echeverria/AP

Our most reasonable answer is that there is nothing strange happening.  In earlier years communication was a problem so incidents like these happened and the world could not get to know about it.  But today, with satellites, the internet, we come to know about these events in a short space of time.

Good answer! If that satifies your deepest quest as to why are these things happening - so be it.  If not then continue the search for the answers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sign Post 1 - Earthquakes Expected!

First watch the movie 10.5 Apocalypse.  It will give you an idea of what is expected in and around the Mississippi river states.

In 1811 and 1812, a series of four earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 7.8 to 8.2, among the strongest ever to shake North America, occurred along the New Madrid fault.  It literally leveled the New Madrid town. Can you imagine the quake reportedly rung church bells in Boston.  This was along the well known New Madrid seismic zone in the Mississippi River Valley.  Those two regions put several Midwestern states, including Indiana, at risk for major earthquakes, scientists say.  "It's not a matter of  if it will happen, but when," explained Dr. Lawrence Weidman, Director of Environmental Science and Professor of Biology at the University of Saint Francis.

In 2009, scientist studying earthquakes deep beneath Indiana, found that immense pressures are squeezing layers of rock and great pressures are building up. Some day, experts contend, the rock will crumble under the pressure, causing an earthquake, or a series of them, that could exceed magnitude 7.0, enough force to cause serious damage.

"Overpasses would collapse highways would fissure, buildings shaken, damage to property as far north as northern Indiana and southern Michigan," said Bernie Beier, For Wayne, Allen County Homeland Security Director

Now one guy had a nasty dream about this impending earthquake.  Let's see what he had to say:

Pastor Kilpatrick wants to share with his partners and friends the following vision and dream he had in April and May 2008. He has never posted a vision or dream on the internet, but after talking with some close friends, intercessors, as well as those in prophetic ministry he has agreed to do so. His intentions are not to alarm the Church or the public, but to forewarn us to pray concerning what he has seen. At this time, we do not have the full revelation or meaning of this vision and dream, but know that the Lord is trying to warn us and prepare us for the days ahead. Please help us pray to the Lord concerning this matter.

Sunday, April 27, 2008 - Vision
As I was approaching the Daphne Civic Center for Sunday morning service at Church of His Presence, I had a vision which lasted for about two or three seconds. In this vision, I saw the ground buckling before me. It was so real that I actually moved aside to avoid what I was seeing. I knew immediately that it was an earthquake, and the thought crossed my mind that the damages of this earthquake could have the potential to exceed those of Hurricane Katrina of 2005. Please understand that I am not saying that the Lord told me this. It merely crossed my mind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 - Dream
I awoke trembling and shaking at 5:00 in the morning after having a startling dream. This was one of the three most profound dreams that I have ever had during the ministry the LORD has called me to. I feel that this dream is an addendum to the vision I had on April 27, 2008.

In this dream I saw the words "wind and water." I only saw the words but did not actually see any wind or water damage. I then found myself overlooking a river which instantly became so wide that I could no longer see either of its banks.

The dream then shifted, and I was with one of my parishioners running through what appeared to be an old abandoned school house. This empty building began to shake. The shaking was so violent and severe that it was like the bucking of a wild horse tossing us around. My teeth were clapping so hard from the impact that I tried to clench them to prevent this from happening.

In this dream I knew I was experiencing a massive earthquake. The sounds were so catastrophic that the thought crossed my mind that the devastation could likely exceed Hurricane Katrina of 2005. I did not see the devastation behind me; I only heard it. In all of my life I have never heard such catastrophic sounds. These were the scariest sounds I have ever heard.

The dream then shifted once more and concluded with two names on what appeared to be an old Spanish map. One name read Indianola and the other Europa. When I awoke, I was shaking as if I had chills and a fever. I could not stop trembling. All through the day I felt as if I had just had the dream 10 minutes ago.

This dream so shook me that my wife and I immediately went to the internet to do some research. I also contacted some close friends in the ministry and reliable intercessors concerning this dream. What we found was startling. There are towns called Indianola, IL; Europa, MO; and Indianola, MS. These towns run in a line from North to South with Europa, MO being near the middle of them. The Mississippi River runs between them with Europa, MO being by the epicenter of the New Madrid fault.

After seeing this, I believe the dream could be concerning a devastating earthquake on the New Madrid fault. Many reputable friends in ministry have felt that this dream was not to be interpreted as a spiritual dream because they felt that it has literal implications. Even now the intensity of this dream is the same.

I do not want to come across as an alarmist concerning what I saw. I also don't want to put fear in the public or the Body of Christ. However, I cannot help but feel that God gave me this as warning to prepare us for the days ahead and to pray concerning this matter.

Please know that I did not see any timeframe as to when this may happen. Please pray with me concerning this vision and dream.

If you have any comments, you can send them to

John Kilpatrick
Church of His Presence

About John Kilpatrick:
John Kilpatrick pastored Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, FL for 22 years. During his tenure there, he had the privilege of pastoring the Brownsville Revival which began on Father's Day of 1995. Currently, he is the founder and senior pastor of Church of His Presence in Daphne, AL and president of John Kilpatrick Ministries. In addition to pastoring, he continues to preach across the nation and fulfill his apostolic call to mentor and pastor other ministers.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sign Posts - 1: Earthquakes

Are earthquakes a good Sign Post? Pointing to something beyond itself. Do they make us aware of the unknown that lies beyond.

Let's peer into this.

US Geological Survey gives this statistical record about earthquakes:

Number of MAJOR Earthquakes (magnitude > 5.0) Worldwide for 2000 - 2010
Located by the US Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center
Magnitude 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010/Apr
8.0 to 9.9 1 1 0 1 2 1 2 4 0 1 1
7.0 to 7.9 14 15 13 14 14 10 9 14 12 16 6
6.0 to 6.9 146 121 127 140 141 140 142 178 168 142 73
5.0 to 5.9 1344 1224 1201 1203 1515 1693 1712 2074 1768 1754 817

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS

These stats do show us there is an increase in earthquakes since year 2000, though the falls are marginal in 2008 and 2009 in the magnitudes 5.0 to 6.9. And hitting 16 in the 7.0 to 7.9 in year 2009. But why? Ever wondered? Is it because they are so unpredictable, or, our earth sciences not yet reached a place to give us answers. Most of us know that earthquakes are caused by tectonic plate movements.

Plate Tectonics, the Cause of Earthquakes
The plates consist of an outer layer of the Earth, the lithosphere, which is cool enough to behave as a more or less rigid shell. Occasionally the hot asthenosphere of the Earth finds a weak place in the lithosphere to rise buoyantly as a plume, or hotspot. The satellite image below shows the volcanic islands of the Galapagos hotspot. (from NASA)
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS

While we understand earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates (on which nations and continents sit on) move and crash against each other, yet its hard to find a scientific reason as to what makes this huge mass move.  whatever moves it is an awesome force.

From what I've read so far, it seems to be that activity in our sun (by saying ours, I mean the sun in the solar system to which planet earth belongs) really controls all of our climatic changes, and tectonic plate movements.  I guess the science is complex to explain as its to do with sun spots activity and things like that.
The sun has some relationship with the electromagnetic properties of the earth.

Many scientist deny the relationship.  The question of a solar disturbance/magnetic field change related to earthquakes has been thoroughly investigated and found to be unproven.   An international meeting of scientists was convened in London from November 7 to 8, 1996, on the subject of relationships of earthquakes to other phenomena for prediction purposes. Papers of that meeting appeared in the Geophysical Journal International, vol. 131, pgs. 413 to 533, 1997.   The consensus of the meeting was that prediction was not possible  (vol 385, pg 19-20, 1997).
this was in 1996-97.  We are now in 2010 - and science is changing like the climate changes we are all experiencing, when it comes to earth sciences... so keep your eyes and ears open to change in discoveries and theories.  For instance read this one:
News from a weather forecasting web site : Get the latest weather news here: WA News No 19 - 10th May 2010: Thunder Floods USA and Mid East confirm Solar-based forecasts.
As I said be open to learning - earth and space science is changing just like the climate - one day global warming, the next global cooling.  Ain't that Cool Man!
But do earthquakes point to something beyond.. that's my point which I want to focus on as a sign post.
I've found one place that talks about increased earthquake activity that is a sign post to a future predicted event.  Read this:
Mat 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place;  Mat 24:8 All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the birth pangs...(this is a quotation from the Amplified Bible, Matthew chapter 24, verses 7 and 8).

Can a person accept this as really true? Well I cannot deny the increase in earthquake activity on our planet earth, its a well documented fact.  Scientist in 1996-97 have thrown up their hands to say no we cannot predict when and where as earthquake will happen.  But the bible predicts there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place.  This prediction is coming true for sure.  Yet it is a sign post to something else.  If it means our survival, I guess I and you will have to do our homework to find out why the bible used this sign post to tell us something else is on the way.  Go find it and it might just help you immensely.  I am going to do my little exploration.

We will explore some more sign posts the next time...