Sunday, March 18, 2012

Insecticide linked to bee colony collapse - New research shows a link between an increase in the death of bees and insecticides, specifically the chemicals used to coat corn seeds, according to a report released late this week. The study provides insight into colony collapse disorder, and may pressure lawmakers to consider increased regulation of the chemicals. Colony collapse disorder, or the mass die-off of honeybees, has stumped researchers for months. Massive and widespread die-offs of colonies left researchers considering a number of possible causes, among which included the increased use of pesticides.
Researchers noted that springtime die-offs of the honeybee are likely linked to technology used to plant corn coated with insecticides. Pneumatic drilling machines pull corn seeds in and spray them with the insecticide to create a coating before they are planted in the ground. The technology, the effects of which are long documented, is used to to plant seeds with so-called neonicotinoid insecticides. The process has reportedly resulted in widespread deaths of honeybees, which have been reported since the introduction of the technique in the late 1990s.
The report comes nearly a year after U.S. congressional lawmakers rallied behind the beleaguered honeybee by creating a congressional caucus to promote research and focus attention on the troubling collapse of bee colonies. The new caucus is similar to dozens of other congressional caucuses that cover topics from wine and shellfish to minor league baseball and multiple sclerosis. Caucus members stay in touch, show their concern and co-sponsor legislation.

**Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and
give strength to body and soul.**
John Muir

This morning -

Yesterday -
3/17/12 -

3/16/12 -

Philippines - The number of people who were injured in a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in the southern Philippines rose to 45. Dozens of mall goers got injured when the strong quake caused a stampede at Gaisano Capital duriing its grand opening at around 4pm Friday afternoon. Some government buildings were damaged.

New Zealand - Quake damage at Canterbury hospitals could see patient services disrupted for several years to come. The region's hospitals have suffered considerable damage as a result of the ongoing quakes and many key facilities need extensive repair work.

In the Indian Ocean -
Tropical cyclone 17s (Lua) was located approximately 120 nm southeast of Port Hedland, Australia.

Tropical Cyclone Lua was upgraded to category 4 as communities took shelter along Western Australia's northwest coast following the issue of a red alert. Lua was expected to make landfall some time on Saturday afternoon, bringing with it potentially devastating wind gusts of up to 230km/h along with heavy rain, flooding and a dangerous storm tide. People were warned to take shelter immediately and warned that heavy fines apply if they use their vehicles. Flights into the region have been cancelled and the main highway has been closed between Broome and Port Hedland, where the port has also been shut down and vessels sent to safe waters. The Bureau of Meteorology said gales were expected to develop early on Saturday morning in coastal areas between Whim Creek and Bidyadanga, including Port Hedland, extending during the morning to adjacent inland areas and north to Cape Leveque including Broome, and possibly west to Dampier.
It said destructive winds up to 160km/h were possible between Port Hedland and Bidyadanga and very destructive winds up to 230km/h were forecast near Lua's centre. Residents of Port Hedland and east to Bidyadanga are specifically warned of a very dangerous storm tide expected as the cyclone centre approached the coast.
UPDATE - There have been reports of extensive damage on the Pilbara coast but so far no casualties. Cyclone Lua crossed the coast as a category four storm but has weakened to category one as it moves inland. Australia's meteorology bureau says gusts of up 100km/h (60mph) are still possible near the cyclone centre. It has issued warnings for the eastern Gascoyne, western Interior and northern Goldfields areas for today. Early on Saturday, Lua crossed the coast between Port Hedland and Broome and caused extensive damage to some remote Pilbara towns, uprooting trees and damaging buildings. Recovery teams were on their way to assess the damage.As the cyclone gathered intensity and swept in off the Indian Ocean, Australia's main iron ore mines - which are some of the biggest in the world - shut down. (map)


Britain's heritage buildings feel the extreme weather: heat and cold. Experts fear they are fighting a losing battle as increasingly erratic conditions take their toll. The curators responsible for preserving Britain's historic sites already have to cope with falling subsidies and the effect of the economic gloom on visitor numbers. Now they have another problem: our increasingly extreme and erratic weather. Freezing temperatures, drought and torrential rain are all proving increasingly damaging to sites that, in some cases, are almost 1,000 years old.
Earlier this month, parts of the roof of St John the Baptist Church in Woodhurst, Cambridgeshire, collapsed, with masonry falling from the chancel, causing damage that will cost up to £40,000 to repair. Experts said the problems were caused by the drought's effect on soil that is found particularly in the east of England. The trees close to the walls of the building sucked up too much water from the ground after two years of low rainfall, causing the clay to contract. This moved the foundations, and the walls cracked. Finding funding for the necessary repairs is becoming increasingly difficult.
Other churches have been affected in similar fashion. St Mary's, in the village of Mundon, Essex, had to undergo significant repairs as a result of clay shrinkage, which led the building's foundations to start "falling apart". In the Church of St Andrew, at Abbots Ripton, also in Cambridgeshire, the arcades were found to be moving on the foundations, causing cracks. Without repair work, it is likely that the whole building will collapse.
St Andrew's Church at nearby Wood Walton, which was recorded in the Domesday Book, is also facing serious problems. "We think it is due to the climate. It may be just two or three years aberration, but the climate has definitely had an impact."
The most recent Heritage At Risk register was published in August. There were 5,828 entries. Although the effect of increasingly extreme weather is difficult to quantify, many list erosion and weathering as a problem. The cold winters of 2009 and 2010 also caused serious problems at several sites, including Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk, a monastic site dating back to 1090, and the 12th century Framlingham Castle in Suffolk. "The frost is a real issue. In the past two severe winters, hard frost caused huge damage to standing ruins in the east of England. The chalk in the stonework deteriorates. We understand the process and know we can't stop it."
In Norwich, the medieval city walls have suffered damage as a result of the salt used on the roads in cold weather. The National Trust has also pointed to a rise in threats from extreme weather – specifically torrential rainfall. "The weather is much more extreme in the UK than it used to be. Between 1985 and 2007 I have never had to turn out due to emergency flooding. It has been four times since then." Severe flooding in Tewkesbury affected several National Trust properties, including Basildon Park. The 12th century Tewkesbury Abbey also had water come in through the doors. In 2009, the devastating floods in Cockermouth, in the Lake District, hit the birthplace of William Wordsworth. National Trust employees had to wade through waist deep water to salvage the collection of furniture, artworks and documents. "Our emphasis must now be on prevention. We are trying to put aside more [money] than we ever have before to deal with this issue."

America's weather is stuck on extreme. - Nearly 11 feet of snow has fallen on Anchorage, Alaska, this winter. That's almost a record, and it's forcing the city to haul away at least 250,000 tons of snow. Not much snow has dropped on the Lower 48 states this year.
The first three months of 2012 have seen twice the normal number of tornadoes. And 36 states set DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE RECORDS Thursday. So far this month, the U.S. has set 1,757 DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE RECORDS. That's similar to the number during last summer's heat wave. Six RARE, but not unprecedented, March tornadoes struck Thursday in Michigan, which also set 26 HEAT RECORDS. Temperatures were in the 80s in some parts of the state. Nationwide, there have been 132 tornadoes confirmed in January and February, with preliminary reports of more than 150 already in March.