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Extreme weather: 2012 kicks off with record heat, tornadoes & drought; 'strange spring' is 'climate change we're seeing'

A tornado touches down in Lancaster, Texas south of Dallas on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Tornadoes tore through the Dallas area Tuesday, peeling roofs off homes, tossing big-rig trucks into the air and leaving flattened tractor trailers strewn along highways and parking lots

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Extreme Weather USA: 2012 Kicks Off With Record Heat, Tornadoes & Drought
Yesterday, a dozen tornadoes ripped through Dallas, spurring panic in a highly populated, 6 million-strong metropolitan area. The footage captured by news helicopters was dramatic—semi trucks and trees were hurled into the air like newspapers tossed from a malevolent paperboy.

But the fleet of Texan tornadoes only marks the latest in a year that has already been packed with extreme weather—we've had record-hot winter months, unusually early tornadoes in the midwest, and states wracked with drought. Here's a closer look.

Tornadoes

There was nothing tremendously out of the ordinary about the tornadoes that hit Dallas, but climatologists were concerned about the spate of twisters that swept through Kentucky, Indiana, and three other states in early March. Those tornadoes killed 39 people and exacted untold property damage to homes and buildings across the region.

And tornado season doesn't usually begin until April, leading climate scientists to link the warmer weather to earlier (and potentially longer) seasons. Here's Joe Romm:  read more »

"..what the planet's telling us": Blizzards,tornadoes,floods,record heat,drought,wildfires. Disasters cost US 36+billion this yr

Flood waters from the Passaic River fill the streets covering automobiles including a Chevrolet SUV days after Hurricane Irene in Paterson, New Jersey, August 31, 2011.

Even before Hurricane Irene struck two weeks ago, the costs added up to $35 billion.

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Weather disasters keep costing U.S. billions this year - Blizzards. Tornadoes. Floods. Record heat and drought, followed by wildfires.

The first eight months of 2011 have brought strange and destructive weather to the United States. From the blizzard that dumped almost two feet of snow on Chicago, to killer tornadoes and heat waves in the south, to record flooding, to wildfires that have burned more than 1,000 homes in Texas in the last few days, Mother Nature has been in a vile and costly mood.

Climate experts point to global warming, meteorologists cite the influence of the La Nina weather phenomenon or natural variability and, in the case of tornadoes hitting populated areas, many simply call the death and destruction bad luck.

But given the variety and violence of both short-term weather events and longer-term effects like a Southwestern drought that has lasted years, more scientists say climate itself seems to be shifting and weather extremes will become more common.

"A warmer atmosphere has more energy to power storms. We've loaded the dice," said Jeff Masters, co-founder and director of meteorology for Weather Underground, Inc, speaking on Wednesday at a news conference on climate. "Years like 2011 may become the new normal in the United States in coming decades."  read more »

Oilsands protest goes Hollywood;Margot Kidder plays Earth Mother for real, expects to be arrested as some are already handcuffed

demonstrations have been taking place outside the White House against tar sand pipeline from Canada to US

US Park Police officer handcuffs and arrests a protestor over a proposed pipeline to bring tar sands oil to the US from Canada

Margot Kidder expects to be arrested in a tar sands protest in Washington

US Park Police officers handcuff and arrest protestors over a proposed pipeline to bring tar sands oil from Canada, in front of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011

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More arrests on second day of oil pipeline protests
A Toronto woman was among those arrested on the second day of a mass protest held outside the White House to denounce a planned pipeline that would transport Canadian oil from Alberta to Texas. Dozens of protesters were removed by U.S. Park Police on Sunday for failing to obey orders governing demonstrations on the grounds of the White House.

Patricia Warwick, 68, of Toronto, and a 65-year-old woman from Massachusetts were arrested shortly before noon and by the end of the day about 50 people had been detained. U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser said late Sunday everyone arrested was later released.  read more »

Over 100F (38C) for 38 consecutive days and counting: US heatwave August 2011, excessive heat warnings for 12 states

record heatwave in US: summer 2011
[Aug 5, 2011] A heat wave affected southern US states from California to North Carolina, and temperatures topped 100F (38C) in parts of Texas for the 38th consecutive day.
extreme heat and drought in TX, summer 2011
Texans have endured over a month of extreme heat and drought.

record heatwave in US: summer 2011

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The South burns! Dallas sizzles in more than 100 degree heat for 38th day in a row - and looks set to break 1980 record of 42 days

Record breaking temperatures scorched the South today, with Dallas baking under more that 100F heat for the 38th day in a row. After enduring a high of 108F today, forecasts suggest there will be no let up in the area, with temperatures continuing to rage until well into next week. If, as meteorologists predict, the mercury keeps hitting above 100F every day until Sunday, the state will break a 31 year record for the longest running heatwave.  read more »

Hungary destroys GM corn; African Biodiversity Network:"GMO no solution to food shortages..";11 EU states want right to ban GMOs

Hungary attempts to secure a GM-free country

Hungary destroys illegal GM corn fields, makes distributing GMO seeds a felony

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Hungary Destroys Genetically Modified Corn Crops
Hungary has destroyed almost 1,000 acres of corn found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, which are illegal in the country, International Business Times reports. The corn was plowed under so that pollen would not contaminate other crops.

The action came in response to a new regulation introduced in March that stipulates that seeds are supposed to be checked for GMO before they can be sold to farmers. But some of the GMO seeds, manufactured by U.S. seed giants Monsanto and Pioneer, made it onto the market anyway. The Hungarian government said it will continue to test seeds despite the fact that seed sellers are obliged to make sure their products are GMO-free.

Last week the Hungarian unit of Monsanto, the largest producer of GMO seeds, appealed to the Budapest Municipal Court to suspend the resolution by the Hungarian Agriculture Office to destroy the corn, but they were turned down, according to the Budapest Times. With the growing season already underway, it's too late to sow new seeds, so this year's harvest is a total loss.

Monsanto released a statement saying it "respects Hungary's efforts to prevent the production of genetically manipulated plants on Hungarian farms. Monsanto sells only traditional, not GMO seeds to Hungary. Our seeds can only enter Hungarian markets after they were tested for GMO and found clean, in accordance with national and international laws."  read more »

World Water Crisis: >1 out of 6 people lack safe drinking water, 2/3 of world population to suffer fr water shortages by 2025

lack of clean water access around the world
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According to the UN, unsanitary water kills more people worldwide than war. As the precious water supply dwindles, it may prove to be more than just a crisis for developing countries.

Did the US hit peak water in 1970?
Everyone is aware of the dangers of peak oil, but peak water is just as, if not more, devastating. The planet's fresh water supply is a precious resource and the rate at which the industrialised world consumes it is always increasing. As such, there is a fear, as with oil, that eventually extraction rates hit a peak and it's only downhill from thereon-in. Staff at the Pacific Institute however have made a disturbing discovery - that the US hit 'peak water' in 1970... and nobody noticed.

The Facts About The Global Drinking Water Crisis

• 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water, roughly one-sixth of the world's population.

Consumption

• The average American uses 100 to 175 gallons of water per day.

• The average African Family uses 5 gallons per day.

• It takes 5 liters of water to make 1 liter of bottled water.

• Almost 70 percent of the available fresh water gets used for irrigation in agriculture.

• More than half of the water used for irrigation leaks, evaporates or runs off.

• It takes 2,900 gallons of water to produce one quarter pound hamburger (just the meat)

Our Planet  read more »

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