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Most threatened species on earth: one third of world’s coral reefs on verge of extinction due to ocean pollution, over-fishing

Coral reefs are home to around two million species

(quote)

July 10 (Bloomberg) -- A third of the world's corals could be dead within a few years, a shocking new report warns today. The biggest study of its kind has found that 200 out of 700 species of coral are on the brink of extinction - far more than was previously thought. If they die, some of the most beautiful and colourful reefs - home to millions of species of marine life - could be devastated. The speed of decline has shocked the 39 scientists who carried out the survey. Just 10 years ago only 13 species of coral were endangered. Researchers, who published their findings in the journal Science, say they have been badly hit by climate change, coastal development and overfishing.

A team of 39 researchers assessed the state of 704 coral species and found 32.8 percent are threatened with extinction. The study results, published today in the journal Science, are "worse than expected," said co-author Suzanne Livingstone, a marine biologist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. "When we began this process, we didn't think it would be anywhere near as high as that," Livingstone, also a marine species assessor for the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said yesterday in a telephone interview. "Climate change is the overarching threat which comes in on a much larger, global scale," adding to localized disturbances, she said. Death of corals can lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems.

bleached coral heads off the Keppel Islands  read more »

Charm of diplomatic optimism: EU, Britain, France, Germany, Russia & China, direct talks with Iran while Bush quick to condemn

Mr Solana was on a charm offensive in Iran

(quote)

They are not usually used to the limelight. In fact you might imagine them blinking as they emerge into the sunshine. The political directors of the foreign policy departments of the great powers are the archetypal bureaucrats - more used to influencing policy behind closed doors, than appearing before the glare of television lights.

But in the stylish residence of the German ambassador to Iran, they took their place alongside the EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana, in what was, not for the first time in Tehran, a rather bizarre news conference. The aim was to demonstrate the unity of the international community, in the face of Iran's nuclear programme. In the event, it showed rather the opposite.

Mr Solana's mission was to bring a new package of incentives, designed to encourage Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium - the process the West fears could be used to make a nuclear bomb.

Ahmadinejad says Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful

Diplomatic optimism

But while he was in the process of delicately explaining his offer to various Iranian officials, US President George W Bush jumped the gun, and announced that Iran had already rejected the package "out of hand".

In fact, as Mr Solana quietly explained later on, Iran has agreed to take away the ideas and think about them.

It was more than just a misunderstanding on Mr Bush's part.

What was so striking was the difference in tone. President Bush was quick to condemn the Iranian government at the earliest opportunity.  read more »

Ron Paul: "I am just really concerned that this is going to lead to hostilities". Putin warns against military action

(quote)

*Update* Dec 15 2009
Statement of Congressman Ron Paul, United States House of Representatives, December 15, 2009

I rise in strongest opposition to this new round of sanctions on Iran, which is another significant step toward a US war on that country. I find it shocking that legislation this serious and consequential is brought up in such a cavalier manner. Suspending the normal rules of the House to pass legislation is a process generally reserved for “non-controversial” business such as the naming of post offices. Are we to believe that this House takes matters of war and peace as lightly as naming post offices?

This legislation seeks to bar from doing business in the United States any foreign entity that sells refined petroleum to Iran or otherwise enhances Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum such as financing, brokering, underwriting, or providing ships for such. Such sanctions also apply to any entity that provides goods or services that enhance Iran’s ability to maintain or expand its domestic production of refined petroleum. This casts the sanctions net worldwide, with enormous international economic implications.

...

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned that many of my colleagues opposing war on Iran will vote in favor of this legislation, seeing it as a step short of war to bring Iran into line with US demands. I would remind them that sanctions and the blockades that are required to enforce them are themselves acts of war according to international law. I urge my colleagues to reject this saber-rattling but ultimately counterproductive legislation.

Date: 12/15/2009
Location: Congress
Legislation: Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (H.R. 2194)

Transcript  read more »

Spanish lorry drivers block border. France and Portugal raise fears of food and petrol shortages: impact of Iraq War

tens of thousands of Spanish truckers on indefinite strike over soaring fuel costs that could bring the country to a standstill

(quote)

Spanish lorry drivers blocked the border with France to all goods traffic yesterday as fuel-price protests in Spain, France and Portugal raised fears of food and petrol shortages. Spanish and Portuguese hauliers began indefinite strikes, and queues of lorries up to five miles long formed on the French side of the border after Spanish picketers smashed the windscreens of foreign goods drivers who tried to enter Spain. French and Spanish hauliers also staged go-slow protests, causing 20-mile tailbacks in Bordeaux, France, and 15 miles or more around Madrid and Barcelona. The hauliers were all demanding action to offset the effect of oil prices, now at record highs of over $139 per barrel.  read more »

Airline industry in crisis - impact of Iraq War: oil prices skyrocket non-stop, surge to record $139/barrel and soon to hit $150

oil prices surge to record level of more than $139 a barrel on Friday

(quote)

Oil prices surged to a record level of more than $139 a barrel last Friday, following analysts’ predictions that the price will soon hit $150 and could go as high as $200.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he expected several European airlines to go out of business thanks to high oil prices.The industry would restructure into a handful of strong players, he said. O’Leary predicts that just three European “network” airlines - British Airways, Lufthansa and Air France/KLM - will survive, and one low-cost airline, Ryanair. Budget rival Easyjet would be bought by one of the big three, he said.

United Airlines to reduce fleet by 100 planes and workforce by 1,600 workers

United Airlines, a unit of UAL symbol, said Wednesday it will close Ted, a low-fare airline within an airline, in 2009 and reconfigure its 56 A320 aircraft with first-class seats. Ted serves leisure destinations from Denver and other United hubs.

 read more »

Rome. World leaders: food prices go higher - wheat might rise by 60%, vegetable oils by 80%

(quote)

Higher food prices may be here to stay as demand from developing countries and production costs rise, says an report by the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the body for rich nations, the OECD. In its annual Outlook report, the FAO predicted beef and pork prices might be 20% higher by 2017, wheat could be up to 60% more expensive and the cost of vegetable oils might rise by 80%. World prices for wheat, maize and oilseed crops doubled between 2005 and 2007, and while the FAO expects these prices to fall, the decline may be slower than after previous spikes. As well as key factors such as weather, supply and demand and energy costs, speculators are also to blame for making commodity prices more volatile, the FAO says. It is also concerned about the increasing use of crops for biofuels. Looking ahead, climate change may also affect crop harvests, pushing up prices further.

But the hardest-hit by rising food costs will be the poorest people on the planet, where a large share of income is spent on food, the FAO warned. The FAO believes the commodity boom has forced some in the developing world to spend more than half their income on food, particularly those countries that have to import much of their food. But even then, its outlook may be too conservative, says BBC international development correspondent David Loyn, since predicting future oil prices is a near-impossible task. One key assumption made is that crude oil prices will peak at $104 a barrel by 2017 says our correspondent. But as he points out, the price is already well above that, and some reputable analysts are now predicting oil will go to $200 a barrel. And he added that while there may be a drop in food prices in coming years, "there is a sting in the tail. "Prices will level off at a far higher average level than seen before the crisis erupted," he said. "The long era of cheap food is over."  read more »

Rising Acidity in World’s Ocean Waters 100 Years Earlier than Predicted

(quote)

Climate models predicted it wouldn't happen until the end of the century. So Seattle researchers were stunned to discover that vast swaths of acidified sea water are already showing up along the Pacific Coast as carbon dioxide from power plants, cars and factories mixes into the ocean. In some places, including Northern California, the acidified water was as little as four miles from shore.

"What we found ... was truly astonishing," said oceanographer Richard Feely, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. "This means ocean acidification may be seriously impacting marine life on the continental shelf right now." The phenomenon is an aspect of global warming scientists are just beginning to understand.

Acidified ocean water can be fatal to some fish eggs and larvae. It also interferes with the formation of shells and skeletons, harming corals, clams, oysters, mussels and the tiny plankton that are the basis of the marine food web. "Their shells dissolve faster than they are able to rebuild them," said Debby Ianson, an oceanographer at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and a co-author of the study published today in the online journal Science Express.

Since the Industrial Revolution, when humans began pumping massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the oceans have absorbed 525 billion tons of the greenhouse gas, Feely estimates. That's about a third of the man-made emissions during that time. By reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the oceans have blunted the temperature rise due to global warming. But they've suffered for that service, with a more than 30 percent increase in acidity.

"This is another example where what's happening in the natural world seems to be happening much faster than what our climate models predict," said Carnegie Institution climate scientist Ken Caldeira, whose work suggested it would be nearly 100 years before acidified water was common along the West Coast. And there's worse to come, the scientists warn. The acidified water upwelling along the coast today was last exposed to the atmosphere about 50 years ago, when carbon-dioxide levels were much lower than they are now. That means the water that will rise from the depths over the coming decades will have absorbed more carbon dioxide, and will be even more acidic. "We've got 50 years' worth of water that's already left the station and is on our way to us," study co-author Hales said. "Each one of those years is going to be a little bit more corrosive."

(unquote)

Images courtesy of Dana Greeley & Simone Alin, PMEL, and Daily Mail

cold waters (very low pH values) form the core of the upwelled waters that are corrosive to shells

A dead coral reef in the inner Seychelles - C02 makes the sea too acidic & damages reefs and continental shelves around the world

Original Source: Seattle Times

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