Chinese Coal Cargo Ship Rams Part of Great Barrier Reef in Australia

A Chinese Coal Cargo Carrier (Cosco shipping), rammed the Douglas Shoal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off Queensland, Australia at full speed. So far the ship, the Shen Neng 1, is holding together and dozens including marine salvage experts are working to insure it stays that way. An oil spill from this ship could prove disastrous for the world’s largest reef.

Only a small number of oil patches were spotted from the air and they have already been sprayed with chemical dispersant. Whether or not the chemical dispersant has a bad affect on living organisms in the reef is still unsure. I tried to read up on chemical dispersants in a PDF file pages long. Basically, the affects of dispersants are only known in controlled lab experiments and for a handful of living organisms. To cover all the effects of chemical dispersants on all living organisms in a reef that size has not ever been done. And we pretty much know a lab experiment would be hard pressed to cover how the movement and volume of water in the sea changes the findings on chemical dispersants in the lab anyway.

So needless to say, officials in Australia are working frantically to keep this ship together and figure how it’s going to be salvaged. Prevention of any spillage is of course the best scenario. The ship was almost 10 miles off course when it entered the area that is off limits to commercial ships. Cosco could be fined over $1,000,000 and the captain $250,000 in penalties according to an article on

Luckily, no storms are predicted for the next few days to cause more problems because the ship is carrying 975 tons of heavy fuel oil and 65,000 tons of coal. My last blog that coal is dirty start to finish didn’t encompass the risk of shipping it across the sea. In the article, the Queensland Premier, Ms Anna Bligh said, “The number of ships in the area was expected to increase with the growth of the natural gas industry. There has been a growing concern about increased ship traffic and that Maritime Safety Queensland was already considering whether more professional pilots should be used to help with ships’ navigation. It may well be that we will see more pilots.”

After this, let’s hope so.


Glacier Floats by Australian Coast

Glaciers that break off of the Antarctic Ice Sheet don’t usually make it as far north as Australia. So to see a huuuuuge glacier float by the Macquarie Islands off the Australian coast in November while that continent’s interior currently suffers a blistering drought is a work of irony.

According to “The chunk of ice, 2,300 feet long and 1,000 feet deep, is floating toward New Zealand and could pose a danger to shipping when it splits into smaller chunks. Experts believe the iceberg is one of a number of icebergs, including one the size of Jamaica, that split from Antarctica in 2000 due to global warming and are slowly heading north.” One was the size of Jamaica?

See pics of this ice berg and read more:

New Zealand’s glaciers are melting at an alarming rate also:

September 2008

The Pategonian Ice Fields in Argentina/Chile, the largest next to Greenland and Antarctica, are melting:

March 2008

Glaciers in Peru are melting causing a water shortage:

November 2009

Alpine Glaciers are melting:

November 2007

Himalayan Glaciers melting faster than anywhere else. They supply the Ganges River

November 2009

U.S. Glacier Retreat August 2009

Glacier Retreat Worldwide June 2008

These glacier videos are from the last few years. Some say we’ve been in a cooling trend for the past decade. Odd, considering what you see isn’t consistent with that at all. Perhaps all the ice bergs floating around the ocean are acting like ice cubes in our cocktails.


Australia Hit by Drought; Camels and Other Animals Invading Towns in Search of Water

Much of Australia has been hit by some of the worst drought conditions on record according to an article on MSNBC. Some 6000 camels have hit Docker River a small town of 350 people. That’s right—camels.

The same article explained that although camels are not indigenous to Australia, they were imported there in the 1840’s and now number around one million roaming the arid internal parts of Australia.

These camels are so thirsty they have ripped apart air-conditioning units and tore up infrastructure. Since they can be as tall as 7 ft. and weigh two thousand lbs., people are afraid to leave their homes. This is pretty Hitchcockian if there is such a word. Besides camels there have been kangaroos and the giant emu birds invading other towns in Australia

Unfortunately, the first response is to kill thousands of camels by helicopter, which is something I really don’t want to envision. Aerial shooting is not exact and so it is cruel because it involves maiming the usually friendly animal that is not invading out of hostility but thirst. And talk about spoilage. Officials plan to just leave the carcasses to rot in the desert?

This is a pretty frightening scenario of what can happen in extremes of climate. Innocent animals in a frenzy over thirst, food, or loss of habitat invade a town. People must react and quickly, which means the animals die. There simply isn’t enough to go around to give them? I thought if you fill a camel up, it lasts awhile? It’s sad, I think. If the animals must be killed, at very least the carcasses should be used to feed other animals, or else Australia might induce a massive influx of vultures. Because every time we create an imbalance another occurs in its place.

The cull is set for Wednesday. Hopefully, someone will come up with a better solution. The poor animals are desperate already, to kill them when they are needy, not hostile is somehow not right.

Watch the video:


Warming in the Northern Hemisphere, Cooling in the South, Average Overall Temp Still Up

There is much confusion about global climate change and rightly so because the earth’s hemispheres march to the beat of a different drum. The Northern Hemisphere is classically warmer than the Southern Hemisphere and now it’s more evident than ever. However, the NOAA just reported, “Combined Global Surface Temperature Was Sixth Warmest for October,” The report went on to list global temperature highlights that validate the difference between the two hemispheres:

· The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for October 2009 was the sixth warmest on record, at 1.03 degrees F above the 20th century average of 57.1 degrees F.
· The global land surface temperature for October 2009 was 1.48 degrees F above the 20th century average of 48.7 degrees F, and ranked as the sixth warmest October on record.
· The worldwide ocean temperature was the fifth warmest October on record, with an anomaly of 0.90 degree F above the 20th century average of 60.6 degrees F. Warmer-than-average temperatures dominated much of the world’s land areas. The greatest warm temperature variances during October 2009 were present across Alaska and northern and eastern Russia.
· Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across Scandinavia, New Zealand, the contiguous U.S., and parts of northern Australia and southern South America.

Other highlights of this report continued to show the southern hemisphere is cooling, “New Zealand experienced uncharacteristically cool conditions, resulting in the coolest October since 1945. The national average was 51.1 degrees F, 2.5 degrees F below the long-term average.” And while “Arctic sea ice diminished 19.2 percent less than the 1979-2000 average and the second smallest October extent, behind 2007, since records began in 1979, []Antarctic sea ice extent in October was 1.6 percent above the 1979-2000 average, the ninth largest October extent on record.”

Evidently, the cooling in the southern hemisphere didn’t bring down the average of the two hemispheres enough to negate an overall warming trend. But why is the Southern Hemisphere cooling?

Remember the ozone layer depletion (holes) we heard so much about in the 70’s? Well, they are still around. The holes that allow so much of the earth’s rays to hit us, also allow trapped heat that causes global warming to escape. NASA explains: “Because ozone in the upper atmosphere absorbs heat radiating from below, stratospheric ozone depletion actually allows additional heat to escape into space. While this occurs worldwide, the depth of the springtime ozone hole over Antarctica results in Antarctica cooling while the rest of the Earth warms.” The ozone hole over Antarctica this year was exceptional, the size of North America.

Why are ozone holes still around? We were warned back in the 70’s that it takes decades for an ozone hole to heal, and the proof of that is still around. But as the reoccurring Antarctic ozone hole heals, the southern hemisphere will indeed catch up to the warming trends of the north and when it does, it will contribute readily to sea level rise since so much of the ice in the Antarctic is on top of land.

We have to wonder if pollution causes ozone holes and much of the pollution is in the Northern Hemisphere why is the ozone hole over the Antarctic and not the Arctic regions? There is such a thing called “the chemical equator—a natural meteorological boundary in the tropics” where there is a lot of upward moving air and rain that washes out chemicals traveling from north to south making the atmosphere cleaner down under but temperature plays the biggest role in driving ozone holes to the southern pole and not the north. The stratosphere in the southern hemisphere is always about five degrees Celsius colder than in the northern hemisphere and much more ice exists. The icy environment of the southern hemisphere makes the chlorofluorocarbons (ozone depleting chemicals) more potent. As an ABC article explains: “The chemical reaction that frees chlorine from CFCs takes place on the surface of tiny particles of ice in the stratosphere… The more ice there is in the stratosphere, the more ozone-destroying chlorine is liberated from CFCs.

Deniers like to cling to the expansion of ice in Antarctica and even central parts of Greenland in the north as proof of global cooling or at very least a standstill in global temperature gain. Besides the ozone hole contributing to a cooler Antarctic region, a quick look at the extremely different topography of polar places warming and polar places cooling offers an even greater explanation for the disparity:

The South Polar Ice Sheet is two miles thick. That means that the ice is at an altitude of over ten thousand feet where the temperature is much colder than a mere six or so feet as at the North Pole. This makes it impossible for the slight rise in global mean temperature to have any affect at all in the south accept around the edges of the continent.

Also, it sits on a continent rather than on water that is above freezing – as in the north. The ice in the north is an average of 6 to 12 feet thick and is being warmed from beneath as well as above. This has a much larger impact on the North Polar Ice Cap.

After reading all this material, I realized that the chlorofluorocarbons that cause ozone depletion are still around but slowly moving to the upper stratosphere on their final exit. Scientists weren’t kidding that these chemicals would hang around for years. We were warned, but out of sight out of mind. It’s something we should consider when they say CO2, methane, and host of other manmade global warming gases will indeed hang around long after we’ve put a lid on them and likely cause a host of climatic events even though they are slow to manifest now. If the past is a window, it looks like we can indeed expect climate problems to escalate even if we act now.


Latest Big Weather Events Are Evenly Spaced Apart

Boy, it’s been one heck of a week. September 23, Australia witnessed a dust storm that looked like something from a Martian landscape. The dust particles illuminated red by the sun hung like a fog over Sydney’s harbor. Check out the video:

A few days later a Typhoon hit Manila bringing so much rain that 80% of that city was under water, hundreds of people were missing, and thousands of people were displaced.
Another good video follows:

Today an 8.3 earthquake beneath the ocean near the American Samoan islands generated a tsunami and warning for the Hawaiian Islands 2300 miles north. Five foot waves erupted hit Samoa following the earthquake.
Read more:

Oddly these events–a dust storm, a typhoon, and a giant undersea earthquake that generated a tsunami were each 3 days apart and severe. All we need is a volcano to erupt on October 2 to round things out.


Australia Takes Lead in Banning Bottled Water

A New York Times article reported that residents of Bundanoon, Australia voted to ban bottled water sales in their town to do their part in helping environmental concerns over landfills and save a little cash too. Only two people voted against the measure.

Bundanoon may very well be a small community of only 2500, but it wasn’t the first in Australia to restrict bottled water. Earlier the same day, the premier of New South Wales “banned all state departments and agencies from buying bottled water, calling it a waste of money and natural resources.” New South Wales is Australia’s most populous state.

Approximately 60 cities in the U.S. and some in Canada and the U.K. stopped spending tax dollars on bottled water during meetings and conferences, but Australia is the first to ban actual sales of bottled water products. Bundanoon was prompted to this latest move because a bottled water company out of Sydney wanted to set up operations in their small town. The idea of using Bundanoon’s water resources, trucking it out of town, and then reselling the finished product back to Bundanoon’s residents is nuts. They are still in a court battle over it and evidently won’t be having any of the finished product around at all now.

It’s curious that just 30 years ago no one had an interest is consuming so much water. You drank the stuff when you were thirsty. What I noticed happening back then were diet plans that required massive amounts of water to move fat out of the body, i.e. Atkins original diet. This may have jump-started the bottled water industry, along with concerns over polluted water in the 70’s that lead to the Clean Air and Water Acts. Although Perrier water was around, the first two massively produced brands worldwide that I recall were Aquafina—produced by Pepsi Cola, and Dasani—produced by Coca Cola. Coke and Pepsi admitted their bottled water is nothing more than tap water. So why are we paying for it? And I’d like to know, did the diet gurus, and the aerobics industry that took off about the same time have a big stake in the bottled water industry?

After writing blogs about bottled water, a pet peeve, I found that Pepsi and Coke didn’t want a bottle return policy for their respective water either because it would be too costly. What? They have a commodity that is could conceivably come out of hose into a bottle that we are routinely charged anywhere from $.79 to $1.25 for and they can’t afford a bottle return?

And although we’re still struggling with an overabundance of plastic containers, new products arrive in the market place on a regular basis that use even more plastic than necessary like the new Steamables line of foods where we just leave the food in the bag and steam them in the microwave, serve it up, and throw the plastic bag in the trash on a daily basis. The same goes for tossing a perfectly good zip loc bag after using it once. Our packaging needs to change, along with our attitude that “out of sight” means all is well.

Maybe if we were required to keep our garbage within sight, like in our own yards, we’d be way more ingenious at figuring out how to keep from producing a lot of it and in a big hurry to figure out how to get rid of it. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Read more:


Earthquake and Tsunami Prevention 101

I’m addicted to the Science Channel. The topic of interest tonight was tsunamis. After the one in Indonesia that killed a quarter million people it should be of interest to everyone who lives on a coast somewhere. There are many shifting plates around the world known for their activity that can cause earthquakes. I had no idea how many there really are. There is a Eurasian-African plate, Indian Australian plate, the Alpine plate, Caribbean plate, a lot of plates for a lot of earthquakes.

Australia is particularly concerned. It seems the most likely place a tsunami will hit as it has before is the East Coast of Australia where sits Sydney. There is a huge public beach there with thousands of beachgoers in the summer season. A simulated video showed how a Tsunami like that in Indonesia would travel up an inlet there and really cause trouble because the coastline is lined with boulders. Imagine a wall of water coming at you full of boulders. If the water doesn’t kill you the debris does.

Australia has suffered two large tsunamis near Sydney and a bunch of small ones in the past. Earthquakes along the Alpine Fault next to New Zealand are to blame. Earthquakes there happen every 500 years and guess what’s overdue? It was stated that just because it hasn’t happened does not mean it’s not going to. It means it will really be big when it does. Sounds like giving birth doesn’t it?

Hawaii has been hit by tsunamis in the past also. But now Hawaii has the NOAA Tsunami Warning Center to give notice as soon as possible. But will it be soon enough? Right now Dr. Stephen Hickman, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Society is involved with drilling down and across the San Andreas Fault off of San Francisco in order to secure seismic meters there in an attempt to have the earliest warning possible of any and all earthquakes. I was reading more about this project on the Southern California Earthquake Center website and the author, part of a film crew, says he was standing on the drilling platform of the SAFOD or San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth project when an earthquake hit. Now that’s reporting firsthand. It was a 6.0 and the comment was that this was probably ‘the most well-recorded earthquake in history.’

It’s an interesting and humorous story, and quite a fluke that the author was actually there on top of the quake shaking violently on the drilling platform. This is quite a new and innovative project, but in the end may save millions of people if it can forecast big and small, upcoming quakes, and broadcast threats of any resulting tsunamis. I wonder how or who is placing those seismic meters in the tunnels? Considering what happened, not a good job to have. Kind of like putting the first construction cone out on the highway.


Thermal Expansion Causes 57% of Total Sea Level Rise

I run into a lot of people who apply basic logic to the idea of global warming. I too apply basic logic to most things so I understand when some people don’t get upset that many large glaciers are melting. They know that the amount of water released by a melting glacier will not make sea level rise anymore than the displacement from the original frozen mass. An example of displacement is watching to see how much the pool water rises when good old fat uncle Charlie and aunt Rose get into the pool, or why we always want the largest person to do a cannonball.

But there is this phenomenon called Thermal Expansion that really compounds the rise in sea level. Since 1993 thermal expansion accounts for 57% of the sum total of rising water. So more than half of the increased rise in sea level is due to thermal expansion. Not to talk down to anyone but I found a grade 6-8 school project to do that demonstrates the thermal expansion of water. It’s a pretty neat project that explains much I think.

According to a Nova article on “In its 2001 assessment of global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that global mean sea level is expected to rise between 9 and 88 centimeters by 2100, with a ‘best estimate’ of 50 centimeters.” This is around 20 inches. So thermal expansion accounts for 11.4 of those inches? That’s a little scary. Only 8.6 inches of extra water is actually present, but turns into 20 with heat. Siberia is melting at a rate right now that is gorging 3 rivers that lead to the seas and the Arctic Ocean. The Gulf Stream around the British Isles is slowing for what is speculated to be from lesser salt concentration because of dilution off of Siberia. Salt concentration has a huge bearing on our gulf streams, and the air masses above them.

The article explained further on: “The reality promises to be a little grimmer. In many places, 50 centimeters would see entire beaches being washed away, together with a significant chunk of the coastline. For people living on low-lying islands such as Tuvalu, Kiribati or the Maldives, where the highest point is only 2-3 meters above current sea levels, an extra 50 centimeters could see significant portions of their islands being washed away by erosion or covered by water. Even if they remain above the sea, many island nations will have their supplies of drinking water reduced because sea water will invade their freshwater aquifers.” Here that Michigan? Herewe haveemphasis on drinking water again. Read my blog about Kiribati:

For Australia the consequences of even moderate sea level rise is multiplied. The same Nova article, by Australia’s Greenhouse Office states: “Each centimeter of sea-level rise will lead to increasing impacts on low-lying coastal land. Modeling predicts the inundation would cause sandy beaches on the Australian coastline to recede by the order of 100 times the vertical sea-level rise. For example, if the sea level rises by a meter, the coastal beaches could retreat by about 100 meters unless some preventative action is taken. Given that about 85 per cent of Australia’s population lives within an hour’s drive of the coast, this is particularly relevant.” Make note this is based on IPCC’s 2001 assessment. Much has changed.

Keep up to date with our ever-changing environment. Read the most current reports from the IPCC from December, 2007: The IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize honor for ‘efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.’ This panel had a series of four conferences dealing with current global climate change topics and many categories within each topic. Hopefully many answers to most questions are contained in these reports.


Wolf Hunt Frenzy is Out of Control

Dead Wolves

(The photos are from Defenders of Wildlife,

Todays Detroit Free Press had a huge article about global warming wreaking havoc on thousands of animals. It said 3000 flying foxes dropped dead falling out of trees in Australia, butterflies that lived in high altitudes of our continent have vanished, and many more species will disappear in our lifetimes due to global warming. Knowing I’m part of the human population that has created this makes me ashamed. Yet we have state’s governors working themselves into a frenzy to obliterate every last wolf if they have their way.

There has been a campaign for quite some time to stop the aerial killing of wolves. It started and continues in Alaska. Many Alaskans want it stopped, and people all over the country have petitioned Alaska to stop it. Alaska has a new governor and it’s become even worse for wolves there. The issue has finally made it toAlaska’s ballot to stop aerial hunting once and for all.

Defenders of Wildlife disclosed that Alaskan officials earmarked $400,000 in public, or taxpayers dollars, to launch a campaign of lies trying to defend its aerial hunting policy. It’s the wilderness for God’s sake. Where are these animals supposed to live? They serve a purpose, a very important purpose.

The Discovery Channel aired a special from Yellowstone Park. A ranger took the TV cameras to watch wolves. The park is thriving due to their return. The ranger showed rows of different types of brush and trees that were being eaten down by animals the wolves feed on. He pointed out how the wolves helped balance the park in many ways. They are a good thing and welcome there.

As far as livestock, there was a special on the National Geographic channel not long ago that chronicled researcher, Shaun Ellis, who has literally given his life to the study of wolves. He has proven that wolves are family oriented, stick together, and have their own territory. Wolves that might attack rancher’s cattle were deterred by simply broadcasting the howl of another family of wolves. Thenew invading wolvesstayed away for good not wanting to disrupt the territory claimed by the other wolves. I think human beings could benefit greatly from studying wolves. They “RESPECT” one another, yet we shoot them from planes and helicopters.

There is another serious viewpoint to the politics of these wolf hunts. This inhumane hunting practice undermines the efforts of others. Our own Senator Carl Levin created a bill to stop the clubbing of baby seals in Arctic Canada. Why would Canada listen to us about seals when like barbarians, we hunt wolves this way? It isn’t about the hunters or hunting. It’s about the politics of being a horrible example to the rest of the world, and where our credibility takes another bite. America does this all the time. We point out wrongdoing elsewhere and have garbage in our own back yard to clean up, including wars, and threats of wars. Who will listen toa people who allow these things to happen? All we’ve done to exact change in this country in the past 7 years is to vote. When we do see demonstrations against politicians anymore, we are looking at other countries, not America.

This wolf witch hunt hit me and hopefully many others at a time when I am just fed up with killing. I’m already disheartened that so many animals we grew up with, that have been around for our lifetimes may just disappear. As humans we have done enough damage to the earth and everything in it. Yet we pursue more killing and once again it’s coming again from our leadership. It’s a leadership that is so out of touch with citizens that it pays no attention to petitions and outcries from the public. Isn’t this thirst for blood getting a little stale? In retrospect, the wolf commercials from the last election certainly depicted the wrong villains.

And there are worse than Sarah Palin, Gov. of Alaska, Idaho’s Gov. Butch Otter has worked his gun toting constituency into a frenzy against wolves. That state launched a ballot initiative to remove ALL wolves. What type of intelligence is this? And it comes from a governor of a state? It’s a lynch mob who uses technology to try to wipe out an entire species of animal. They obviously haven’t bothered to learn about or care enough to explore all venues for control, if control is even needed. It looks like sport hunting to me. Wyoming wants to follow this mob. The Bush/Cheney administration is pushing to hunt them in our, “OUR” national parks too.

It’s easy to see our states are no longer united. When federal legislation that was put in place by us and preceding presidents for protection of these animals is repealed by this determined, uncaring machine of a government, then the states will each have their way. This is just an example of how divided our states are already and will become even more so in the future if we keep dismantling the federal government like extreme right wing ideologists would like and have pretty much done.

I don’t like the face of this so-called moral, but militant, hostile America. I like the old vision of open plains, majestic mountains, clean water and air, animals in their natural habitat and citizens that actually act like moral beings. The message that we, “will know them by their deeds” has been neglected for far too long. The proposed deeds of this handful of governors without conscience and the Bush administration says much about their inability to have empathy, or concern for living in harmony with nature, a basic sin for this country from the beginning.

Representative George Miller of California has introduced the PROTECT AMERICA’S WILDLIFE bill, (PAW) Act HR 3663. Write, e-mail, or call your reps and tell them you want this bill supported. It will ban the use of airplanes and helicopters to kill wolves nationwide.