March 20 News: Wheat prices climb after Russia cuts crop forecast, export ban still in effect

Prokaryotes and others can post links here to interesting weekend news

Wheat prices climb after Russia cuts crop forecast

Wheat prices rose Friday after Russia cut its forecast for this year’s harvest, renewing concerns that global supplies will tighten.

Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said the forecast called for 84 million to 85 million tons of wheat to be harvested this year, compared to an earlier estimate of 85 million to 87 million tons.

Russia was one of the world’s largest wheat exporters until last year when its crop was damaged by a drought that prompted an export ban. Zubkov said the ban remains in effect.

In the U.S. dry conditions have created problems for the winter wheat crop in the Great Plains.

While global wheat supplies are ample, stockpiles remain tight in the United States. Traders are speculating that global supplies may grow smaller, which could cause prices to rise.

Related Post:

44 Responses to March 20 News: Wheat prices climb after Russia cuts crop forecast, export ban still in effect

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate change doubters are endangering our common future

    THE battle against climate change in Europe is led from the Right. David Cameron, Conservative Prime Minister in Britain, President Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany. All of them have bipartisan support from opposition centre-Left and Labour parties.

    If there is an issue, it is not about the reality of global warming but the best way to tackle it. We are all signed up to cutting our emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, and we have to do between 25 per cent and 30 per cent by the end of this decade.

    Most of us do accept the science that human action is changing our climate directly and that only by cutting emissions dramatically can we avert real disaster. Even those who aren’t sure take the view that simple prudence dictates action. After all, none of us thinks our homes will be burnt down, but we do take out fire insurance. In fact the probabilities on climate change are far, far higher and the consequences of inaction almost unthinkable.

    Like most people, I wish it were not so. Climate change is very inconvenient and that’s perhaps why some, particularly in the US, present this or that partial argument to try to rubbish the science. If their theses stood up, I’d be the first to welcome it. However, I learned my trade in the hard school of Margaret Thatcher, who was the first major political figure to accept that climate change was happening and that mankind had caused it.

  2. S. Majumder says:

    nightmares unfolding …

  3. Prokaryotes says:

    Climate change brings more extreme weather to Queensland, say scientists

    QUEENSLANDERS might be sick of severe weather patterns but it’s only going to get worse.

    Scientists say that over the next four decades, climate change will see the wet tropics get wetter and the dry interior get drier.

    With floods and droughts worsening, rivers will buckle under the twin threats of climate change and dams.

    Richard Kingsford, Australian Wetlands and Rivers Centre director and one of 10 authors of a series of papers on the issue in the CSIRO scientific journal Marine and Freshwater Research, said yesterday increasing temperatures were causing rivers to change flow patterns, particularly where they relied on snow melting.

    “Rivers and wetlands are degrading more than any other ecosystem, with growing impacts on global biodiversity and on humans,” he said.

    As the world’s driest inhabited continent, Australia had to be extremely careful how it managed its rivers, with the troubled Murray-Darling a prime example.

    Under a scheme started by former prime minister John Howard during record-breaking drought, the Murray Darling Basin Authority proposed irrigation cuts of 3000 to 4000 gigalitres or 27 to 37 per cent of current levels. It infuriated farmers, who feared their viability would be threatened.

  4. Prokaryotes says:

    Stop these crimes against humanity

    Climate breakdown is destroying the lives of millions, but SA has merely adopted a morally bankrupt position, writes David le Page

    Parliament has been holding hearings on South Africa’s climate change green paper. We must hope truth will emerge, for the truth is a hard thing to come by when it concerns the global addiction to fossil fuels.

    The danger posed by further carbon emissions is now so great, and the evidence for that danger now so overwhelming, that any proposal to expand fossil-fuel production – not least the natural gas exploitation plans of Shell, Sasol and others in the Karoo – should now be regarded as a crime against humanity.

    When government licenses continued fossil-fuel production – in the absence of an absolute commitment to a low or zero-carbon economy – it, too, is committing a crime against humanity. And when the media fail to communicate this crisis, they are complicit in crimes against humanity.

    South Africa hosts companies that claim to be concerned about climate change – yet their international colleagues fund climate change deniers in the US Congress. Such behaviour, by ArcelorMittal, BP, Bayer and others, is dangerous and disgraceful.

    The past year has seen unprecedented wild fires in Russia and huge floods in Pakistan, China and Australia (also hit by a cyclone). China faces a drought that may send world food prices soaring even higher. The Amazon basin was so stressed that it was a net natural emitter of carbon dioxide.

    This climate breakdown is now directly destroying the lives and livelihoods of millions and affecting all the rest of us.

    Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes that “what really stands out is the extent to which severe weather events have disrupted agricultural production … the current food price surge may be just the beginning”.

  5. Prokaryotes says:

    Chile keeps to nuclear script despite Japan crisis

    Chile’s president insisted Wednesday on signing a nuclear accord with the United States during President Barack Obama’s visit next week, saying the country must keep reactors as a potential option for fueling the booming economy despite anxieties about Japan’s disaster.

    Governments around the world are re-evaluating nuclear energy because of radiation leaks since the powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan, which had been seen as a model for designing safe nuclear facilities. Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez called off Russia’s plan to help build a reactor, calling it “something extremely risky and dangerous for the whole world.”

    Skepticism about nuclear power is rising in Chile, too, but President Sebastian Pinera said the country needs to double its energy resources and can’t be afraid to consider all the alternatives.

    “Chile needs to learn about nuclear energy, and that’s why we’ve signed accords with France and Argentina and we’ll sign another with the United States,” Pinera said during a meeting with the Japanese ambassador. The goal is to learn lessons from Japan’s example, and train Chileans to make wise decisions.

    Chile, like Japan and the United States’ west coast, sits on the Pacific’s “ring of fire” of seismic activity. It is so prone to major earthquakes that many Chileans believe nuclear energy should have no part in the country’s future. Greenpeace plans to protest against the accord during Obama’s visit, and even lawmakers from Pinera’s center-right party have asked him to drop plans for nuclear energy.

    Both Pinera and Obama include nuclear power in the “clean energy” matrix they say is needed to avert global warming.

  6. Prokaryotes says:

    Nuclear Option Should Be Last Resort, Muslim Intellectuals Say

    The Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals Association added its voice on Thursday to those raising questions over whether Indonesia should continue with its nuclear plans.

    The group said the nation should only consider building a nuclear reactor as a last resort.

    “We have to observe the situation in Japan. Nuclear power should only be considered when there are no other alternatives,” said Ilham Akbar Habibie, the president of the group, also known as the ICMI.

    The government should prioritize research on geothermal and wind energy to generate electricity, he said.

    Plans to build a reactor in Bangka-Belitung have come under fire following the nuclear crisis in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture. 

    Sony Keraf, a former environment minister and member of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the unfolding nuclear crisis in Fukushima was sufficient reason to end all talk of building a similar plant in Indonesia.

    “This debate is over. I’m not talking about the scientific reasons but simply using common sense here,” he said.

    “Developed countries like Germany and Russia, which are known for their high level of technology, have stated they will review their nuclear power plants, so why is the Indonesian government acting otherwise? It’s strange.”

  7. Prokaryotes says:

    Bangladesh signs up for nuclear power

    DHAKA – Russia and Bangladesh, which suffers acute shortages of electricity generation, have signed an agreement to install the South Asian country’s first nuclear power plant, at Rooppur in Pabna.

    Russia’s state-owned Rosatom will supply fuel for reactors, take back the spent fuel, and help in the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant. The construction cost is initially being put at between US$1.5 billion and $2 billion. The final agreement, to be signed some time this year, will include details of the funding mechanism to be offered by Russia.

    The Rooppur nuclear power plant (RNPP) will eventually generate around 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, with each of two proposed reactors having a capacity to generate 1,000 MW.

    “This is a welcome step as even if the nuclear reactor generates only 1,000 MW, it will curb the power scarcity significantly,” Yusuf Haider, chairman of the physics department and a former pro vice chancellor of Dhaka University, told Asia Times Online.

    The deal, signed on February 24, is intended to lead to completion of the plant by 2017-2018. In the shorter term, businessmen want more immediate steps to improve power generation, particularly during the summer months.

    Annual demand for electricity in Bangladesh is increasing by 8% to 10% in a country where only 45% of the 155 million people are covered by the current power supply. In the May-October period last year, power outages occurred around eight to 12 hours per day, bringing life to a standstill and with factories being the worst affected.

    On March 9 this year, there was a shortage of 1,304 MW, or nearly 25% of demand, with only around 3,796 MW of electricity generated against a total demand for 5,100 MW, according to the daily report of the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh. Shortages are higher during the summer, when demand can reach 6,000-6,300 MW.

    The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries has urged the government to allocate 100 billion takas (US$1.4 billion), or 10% of the total budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year, to new power plants. The government proposed 43 billion takas for the purpose before agreeing to 61.15 billion takas for development of the power and energy sector.

    On March 9, an increasingly concerned Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry requested World Bank investment in the power and communications sectors in the form of public-private partnerships, a newly devised development paradigm being followed worldwide.

    The electricity tariff rate was increased from 2.37 takas per unit cost of power to 2.63 takas from February 1. The cost will again increase, to 2.80 takas, from August 1 this year.

    The retail price was raised by 5%, with exceptions for those who use as little as 100 units of electricity a month, irrigation facilities, religious organizations and some other groups.

    The government said the increases were to offset rising costs to the government for purchases of electricity from private power producers, which generate 41% of the country’s total power.

    “The government should plan and take further steps to ensure the sustainable growth of the industries sector, although we do realize that the resources are limited as the price of oil is high, gas supply is low, and with the coal policy draft yet to be implemented,” said Murshedi.

    Without a coal policy, the government cannot initiate coal mining on a number of potential sites due to differences between environmentalists, bureaucrats and energy corporations.

    However, experts in the power sector argue that despite the time taken to develop nuclear power plants, they are the only viable solution.

    “There was no option for Bangladesh but to go for nuclear power as this will facilitate fuel diversification,” B D Rahmatullah, former director general of Power Cell, a power ministry unit, told Asia Times Online. “Not much uranium is required in a nuclear power plant, and the price of uranium does not fluctuate at the same rate as oil, gas or coal prices.”

    “However, whether the concerned authorities in Bangladesh have the ability to maintain and operate a nuclear power plant is another concern,” he said.

    Oh great …

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    ‘Fracking’ Comes to Europe,
    Sparking Rising Controversy
    As concerns grow in the U.S. about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to extract natural gas from shale, companies have set their sights on Europe and its abundant reserves of this “unconventional” gas. But from Britain to Poland, critics warn of the potentially high environmental cost of this looming energy boom.

    Four miles from the seafront, in a series of farmers’ fields, a company called Cuadrilla Resources is putting down some of Europe’s first shale gas wells. UK-based Cuadrilla is hopeful that the Bowland Shale — the geological formation that runs through the area — will eventually yield millions of cubic feet of gas, possibly as much as 10 percent of the UK’s total needs. But environmental groups are raising alarms about the potential impact on water supplies, the landscape, and the UK’s wider energy policy.

    Across Europe, a host of energy companies are exploring for unconventional deposits in what some are comparing to the great oil and gas rushes of the past. Exxon Mobil has bought up concessions in Germany and Poland. Shell is active in Sweden and Ukraine. Chevron is in Poland. Total is in Denmark and France. And Cuadrilla is also exploring in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

  9. Prokaryotes says:

    EBRD and Turkey sign sustainable energy action plan

    Faced with increasing industrialisation, urbanisation and greenhouse gas emissions, Turkey’s energy efficiency target is to reduce energy intensity by 20 per cent by 2023 compared to 2008.

    In a memorandum of understanding, signed yesterday between the Undersecretariat of Treasury and the EBRD, both sides outlined their intention to develop and implement measures aimed at building a more energy efficient economy and strengthening Turkey’s competitiveness through the increased use of green technologies.

    “The action plan outlines key areas for cooperation between the EBRD and Turkey for investments and policy initiatives in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in various sectors including power and energy, industry, municipal and environmental infrastructure, transport, and agriculture. The EBRD will cooperate with Turkey with the preparation and adaptation of legislation, the development of financing instruments to support investments in energy efficiency, renewables and carbon finance projects. Additionally, the Bank will provide technical assistance to support the preparation and implementation of such steps,” EBRD informed.

    Given Turkey’s strong potential in the field of renewables, the EBRD plans to increase its activities in providing direct financing to such projects. Initiatives are primarily planned in the wind and hydro sectors and can build on the EBRD’s already existing investment in Turkey. The Bank has already enhanced its activities through the existing € 200 million Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (TurSEFF) and the € 700 million mid-size Sustainable Energy Financing Facility (MidSEFF), launched in 2010 by the EBRD together with other international partners and local banks to promote sustainable energy investments in the private sector.

    “Supporting sustainable energy investments is a central element of our overall strategy and a key focus of our activities in Turkey. The Sustainable Energy Action Plan will help facilitate real improvements in energy efficiency and the increased use of renewable energy through targeted initiatives developed in close cooperation with the Turkish government,” said EBRD Country Director for Turkey, Michael Davey.

    The EBRD is currently implementing similar action plans in Russia, Ukraine , Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Moldova. The SEAP complements the Bank’s Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI), which aims at tackling the climate change challenges and improving energy efficiency and security throughout the EBRD region.

  10. Prokaryotes says:

    China’s solution to worldwide energy crisis : solar greenhouses

    WASHINGTON: Increased proliferation of efficient solar greenhouses in China may contribute to solving worldwide problems such as the energy crisis and global climate change, according to a new report based on 20 years of systematic studies.

    Solar greenhouses have played a vital role in China’s agricultural scene for years. New innovations in greenhouse design are allowing growers to produce more varieties of vegetables, even during long winter months.

    In the recently published report Chinese scientists called solar greenhouses “the most important type of infrastructures for growing horticultural crops in China.”

    The team of researchers from the College of Agronomy and Biotechnology at China Agricultural University presented an extensive report on single-slope solar greenhouses in a recent issue of HortTechnology.

    Single-slope solar greenhouses are built facing south using support and insulation walls on the north, east, and west sides. A short roof is installed on top of the north wall. The south side is supported by metal or bamboo frames (or a mixture of both materials), and is covered with plastic film and an insulating blanket. These energy-efficient greenhouses use solar energy as the only source of light and heat for winter crop production in the region between latitudes 32?N and 43?N for production of warm season crops such as tomato and cucumber.

    As in other parts of the world, the feasibility of using solar greenhouses in China largely depends on the relative duration of sunshine in the winter and temperatures at the greenhouse site. Solar greenhouses are widely used in the regions north of Huai River and the Beijing area, where greenhouses usage has greatly reduced energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions. The success of China’s solar greenhouse operations has contributed to the structures’ adoption by countries such as Japan, Korea, and Russia.

    The researchers noted that while solar greenhouses have many advantages-energy savings, reduced pollution, and improved economic development-the structures also have distinct disadvantages due to their heavy reliance on the sun and weather conditions. Especially during winter, less solar radiation and low temperatures can have a significant negative impact on warm-season vegetable productivity of the greenhouses, and addressing these issues can be challenging.

    “Innovation and optimization of the greenhouse structure needs to continue. More work needs to be done on gutter-connected, double-arched, and semi-underground greenhouses. New wall insulation materials need to be developed to reduce the thickness of the wall while improving its insulation efficiency and expanding space utilization, said Zhen-Xian Zhang, lead author of the study.

    The study also recommended that breeding new varieties of horticultural crops that can adapt to low light and winter temperatures in solar greenhouses would provide another strategy to ensure sustainable development of the greenhouse industry.

    “The solar greenhouse has a very bright future, especially given the amount of concern over the global energy crisis and climate change. Additionally, significant energy savings can be realized from switching to solar greenhouses. We hope this technology can be applied to regions of similar climate to help reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions”, Zhang said.

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Merkel bowed to public and political pressure, announcing a three-month moratorium to evaluate the safety of Germany’s facilities and promising to take the country’s seven oldest nuclear reactors, all built before 1980, off line for the time being. This represents a stunning reversal of the recently passed extension ahead of upcoming elections in three German provinces. The moratorium will cut German nuclear capacity by 4.9 gigawatts, which will join 2.1 GW of nuclear capacity already off line, due to safety concerns in a number of facilities, especially the Krümmel nuclear plant.

    Following Germany’s announcement, European power prices reached their highest point in more than two years. Forward prices for baseload electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, rose to their highest levels since November 2008. The nuclear debate continues to heat up across Europe. Austria, one of the EU’s biggest opponents of nuclear power, received some support for its call for “stress tests.” Switzerland, meanwhile, said it was suspending plans to replace its five aging nuclear plants “until security standards can be carefully re-examined.” Spanish and Portuguese environment representatives went further and called for the gradual phase-out of nuclear energy.

    On the other end of the “atomic” spectrum, France said it had no plans to abandon nuclear generation, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the country’s electric power generation, the highest share in the world. The United Kingdom said it would draw lessons from Fukushima but did not specify how this may affect plans to build replacement plants.

    In the United States, meanwhile, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both from California, expressed concerns about the safety of the state’s nuclear power plants. They questioned the readiness of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, built near geological fault lines, for a major earthquake. At the federal level, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that although the United States is investigating the crisis in Japan, it will not suspend work on new nuclear permits, and nuclear energy will continue to be an element in the country’s energy arsenal. President Obama asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to conduct a “comprehensive review” of American power plants. This stands in contrast to China’s decision to suspend the approval process for nuclear power stations until safety standards have been revised.

    After the catastrophe at Chernobyl nearly 25 years ago, the construction of new nuclear power plants declined dramatically and countries began to invest heavily in coal-fired plants. Only recently have countries such as China, South Korea, and Russia begun the construction of new nuclear facilities. While it remains to be seen how lasting the political fallout from Japan’s ongoing disaster will be, renewable energy sources seem likely to profit the most from the renewed debate about the safety of nuclear power.

    Renewables will be big winner of nuclear crisis

    Jupiter Ecology fund manager Charlie Thomas expects a continued renaissance for the renewables sector (wind energy and solar power), and gas in particular, in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

    Renewables have been generally sold down over the past two years, particularly on regulatory and over capacity fears, but the last week has seen a surge of interest in the sector on worries over the continued viability of nuclear power.

    Citywire Selection pick Thomas has been increasing his exposure to renewables since the start of 2011, on a view that sentiment towards it had been overdone, but in the last six days shares in the sector, and in particular in wind power and solar energy firms, have risen sharply.

    Renewables, equally weighted between alternative energy and energy efficiency stocks, now comprise some 40% of the £396 million Jupiter Ecology Fund portfolio with positions in Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, and German equivalent Nordex, gaining some 40% each over the past six days.

    Vestas is a 1.5% fund position, while Nordex was 0.75%, although Thomas has already taken some profit on the latter. German solar energy companies have also seen a huge surge in share prices since problems began at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan as the possibility of a halt or at least a slow down in the roll out of nuclear power in Germany and elsewhere continues to grow.

    Thomas told Citywire: ‘Since the accident the FTSE World is down some 4% but the ISE Global Wind Energy Index is up by 3.5%. We don’t think what has happened in Japan is a game changer but if you look at the carbon market in Europe it is pricing that a nuclear programme extension in Germany will not happen.’

  12. S. Majumder says:

    The Guardian has a nice article today on food crisis and how the poorest are the hardest hit.

    I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in India, the most common discussion on the dinner table is high food prices. This is so not fair. We are in a way paying the bills for SUV driving developed countries.

  13. Prokaryotes says:

    NASA’s Messenger begins historic orbit of Mercury
    A space exploration first, NASA swings a spacecraft into orbit around innermost planet

    For the first time, a spacecraft is in orbit around the solar system’s innermost planet.

    About 9 p.m. EDT Thursday, NASA’s Messenger spacecraft maneuvered into orbit around Mercury. Carrying seven science instruments and built to withstand the blistering temperatures near the sun, Messenger is tasked with performing the first complete reconnaissance of the planet’s geochemistry, geophysics, geologic history and atmosphere, according to NASA.

    Messenger is programmed to get images of different areas of the planet, including its northern pole, where some scientists surmise there might be ice . That would be a major discovery on a planet that is so close to the sun that its surface is 11 times brighter than Earth’s.

    “From the outset of this mission, our goal has been to gather the first global observations of Mercury from orbit,” said Messenger’s principal investigator Sean Solomon and director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “At the time of our launch more than six and a half years ago, that goal seemed but a distant dream. Messenger is now poised to turn that dream into reality.”

    Now that the spacecraft is in orbit, NASA engineers will begin checking Messenger’s systems to make sure they are in working order.

    Starting on Wednesday, the spacecraft’s instruments will be turned on and checked out, and on April 4 the mission’s primary science phase is set to begin.

    When Messenger entered Mercury’s orbit, it was 28.67 million miles from the sun and 96.35 million miles from Earth.

    Messenger has been on a six-year mission to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. NASA reported that it followed a path through the inner solar system, including one flyby of Earth, two of Venus, and three of Mercury.

    Messenger hasn’t been scientifically idle during its journey to enter Mercury’s orbit.

    During its second flyby of Mercury in the fall of 2008, Messenger sent back more than 1,200 images of the planet’s surface , along with topographical information and data about its atmosphere and magnetic fields.

    “The region of Mercury’s surface that we viewed at close range for the first time this month is bigger than the land area of South America,” Solomon said after the second flyby. “When combined with data from our first flyby and from Mariner 10, our latest coverage means that we have now seen about 95% of the planet.”

    NASA’s Messenger is the first spacecraft to return information about Mercury to Earth since the Mariner 10 mission more than 30 years ago.

    The space agency’s Mariner 10 was the first spacecraft to reach Mercury and Venus. Mariner 10 flew by Mercury three times, returning images and data from the planet.

    The scientists behind Messenger hope to take this latest mission several steps further. Data from Messenger will be collected by Deep Space Network antennas and transferred to the Mission Operations Center at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., where it will be analyzed.

    NASA scientists and engineers have spent about 20 years developing new materials and technologies for Messenger. Its structure was built out of a graphite epoxy material that was designed to be strong enough to withstand the launch yet light enough to lower the probe’s overall mass and save on energy usage. Two large solar panels and a nickel-hydrogen battery power the spacecraft.

  14. Peter M says:

    Prices seem to be rising on many products. Milk has really gone up- and even a basic candy bar at my local CVS increased from 89c to 99c.

  15. S. Majumder says:

    1. I am not buying a car. I always walk or use public transport.
    2. I eat meat only once a week.
    3. I don’t use AC/ room heaters.
    4. I don’t use washing machines or dish washers.
    5. I use around 20 liters of water for bathing purpose.
    6. I always choose energy efficient electrical equipments.

    I am certain that my carbon footprint will be tiny fraction of world average. Yet my food bills have risen about 50% in the last 3 years. I do agree that this being a global crisis, I have to think globally. But I wonder if my American friends are doing their bits.

  16. Prokaryotes says:

    “I am not buying a car. I always walk or use public transport.”
    You could drive an electric vehicle, and buy 100% renewable energy.

    “I don’t use washing machines or dish washers.”
    You could use an efficient one and use green washing powder.

    My point is that basically people do not need to live a simple life in order to make the changes required.
    There are certain things which have an incredible Co2 footprint, such as using an airplane. That’s another reason why high speed trains are so needed.

  17. Wit's End says:

    “Wang and Mauzerall (2004) predicted that daytime surface ozone concentrations in July will exceed 55 ppb in most parts of China in 2020, using a global-scale model of atmospheric chemistry and transport. They also predicted that the total production of soybean, corn and winter wheat in China will be reduced by about 40 to 60 percent in 2020.”

    “…many studies conducted on the effects of ozone on plants have shown that ozone is damaging plants in various regions across Japan, Europe and North America.”

    “Even if the ozone concentration is less than a level that causes visible damage, the elevated level of ozone concentrations reduces the photosynthesis function and accelerates aging in plant leaves. Plant growth is hence retarded, and, in agricultural crops, the harvest is reduced.”

    from “Tropospheric Ozone – a Growing Threat” published by the Acid Deposition and Oxident Research Center in Japan, 2006.

    “Carbon dioxide, the predominant driver of global warming, is not the only industrial by-product whose effects can be felt around the world. Prevailing winds across the Pacific are pushing thousands of tons of other contaminants—including mercury, sulfates, ozone, black carbon, and desert dust—over the ocean each year. Some of this atmospheric junk settles into the cold waters of the North Pacific, but much of it eventually merges 
with the global air pollution pool that circumnavigates the planet.”

    “Perhaps the most counterintuitive traveling contaminant is ozone, commonly associated with ground-level pollution in cities. Volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides from Asian cars and industry mix in the atmosphere as they cross the Pacific Ocean and convert in sunlight into ozone, a main ingredient in smog, Jaffe explains. When air with high ozone concentrations touches down in North America, it can pose the classic dangers of urban smog: heart disease, lung disease, and death.”

    “Jaffe recently coauthored a paper on Asian ozone coming to America. It found that ozone levels above western North America creep upward every spring. “When air was coming from Asia, the trend was strongest. That was the nail in the coffin,” Jaffe says. “The increase was estimated at 0.5 part per billion [ppb] per year. But that’s huge. In 10 years that’s another 5 ppb. Let’s say the epa orders a 5 ppb reduction and we achieve that, and yet, because of the growing global pool, in 10 years that gets wiped out. We’ll have to keep reducing our emissions just to stay even.”

    from the April issue of Discover, “Made in China – Our Toxic, Imported Air Pollution”

    “Ozone Injury – Ozone is a widely dispersed pollutant that reduces tree growth, changes species composition, and predisposes trees to insect and disease attack.” from the US Forest Service 2010 draft annual Inventory and Analysis.

    When is the discussion of crop yield reduction going to include the highly significant and ever increasing impact of ozone? Here’s what one NJ Forester told me: “We don’t talk about pollution because there’s nothing that can be done about it.”

    excerpts, graphs and links here:

  18. paulm says:

    #7 Prok,

    This is why we will not survive, as a civilization, the next 50yrs much less the century.
    The inability of man to think straight.

  19. paulm says:

    #16 Prok, it actually more complicated than that if you consider population.
    If this is not managed then we are still in the same predicament even when our footprints are reduced.

  20. Prokaryotes says:

    Coast Guard probing reports of “sheen” in Gulf of Mexico

    The Coast Guard on Sunday were trying to determine whether the sheen or gleaming at the top of the water, was the result of oil or an algae growth, said Lieutenant Ryan Baxter, command duty officer in New Orleans.

    “We have an unknown substance in the water,” he said. “We’re trying to confirm what it is.”

    The Coast Guard first received a report of a three-mile long rainbow sheen in the Gulf on Saturday morning. Two more reports followed, including one of a sheen that extended from six miles off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana, to 100 miles into the Gulf.

    Coast Guard helicopters are flying over the area for an aerial survey, and the Gulf Strike Team is conducting tests, Baxter said.

  21. Prokaryotes says:

    DAYS before Japan plunged into an atomic crisis after a giant earthquake and tsunami knocked out power at the ageing Fukushima nuclear plant, its operator had admitted faking repair records.

    A power board distributing electricity to a reactor’s temperature control valves was not examined for 11 years … It also said that inspections, which are voluntary, did not cover other devices related to cooling systems including water pump motors and diesel generators.

  22. Prokaryotes says:

    Could global warming be causing recent earthquakes?

    Some scientists theorize that the sudden melting of glaciers due to man-made climate change is lightening the load on the Earth’s surface, allowing its mantle to rebound upwards and causing plates to become unstuck.

    These scientists point to the historical increase in volcanic and earthquake activity that occurred about 12,000 years ago when the glaciers that covered most of Canada in an ice sheet several kilometres thick suddenly melted.

    The result was that most of Canada’s crust lifted — and is still rising.

    Scientists have discovered that the accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet over the last 10 years already is lifting the southeastern part of that island several millimetres every year.

    The surface of the Earth is elastic. A heavy load such as a glacier will cause it to sink, pushing aside the liquid rock underneath.

    The Greenland glacier is about three kilometres at its thickest and it is believed that its weight has depressed sections of the land under the glacier about one kilometre. In fact, the weight of the glacier is so great that significant portions of Greenland have been pushed well below sea level.

    “There is certainly some literature that talks about the increased occurrence of volcanic eruptions and the removing of load from the crust by deglaciation,” said Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta. “It changes the stress load in the crust and maybe it opens up routes for lava to come to the surface.

    “It is conceivable that there would be some increase in earthquake activity during periods of rapid changes on the Earth’s crust.”

    Read more:

  23. Prokaryotes says:

    #19 Paulm

    Kumar #46, “Students in my class are surprised at Saitterwaithe’s analysis which shows how “population increase” is not the critcial factor contributing to global warming- it comes as news to them having been brought up on the “population bogie”. For instance,in India, the increasing carbon footprint of the nation is caused by the consumption of the richest 10%, rather than the poorest 80% (Greenpeace did a nice study on this – and it is a topic which is ripe for more rigorous analysis by researchers). Unfortunately it is this small elite which drives the nations policy. In India the hysterical response of the elites is in form of bullets for those who oppose coal based power plants or GHG spewing steel mills. As one of my students pointed out – a favorite investment destination for elites of India and China is in the condos of Vancouver and Toronto – so they have their escape routes ready.”

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    A robot developed after the JCO incident by METI has been used in exercises at Rokkasho nuclear plant. It is being actually used for monitoring the radiation. Many robots were developed after this incident, but they did not continued. Power plant conpanies mentioned that they did not need such robots because their nuclear plants never have accidents and are safe.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Talk about earthquake uptake in recent years …

    Seismic Hotbed: ‘Quake time zone, Japan not the end’

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    Oil leaked into Columbia River

    A Coast Guard spokesman says about 100 gallons of oil spilled Friday in Portland near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers.

  27. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’ve seen a few articles speculating on whether the Stuxnet worm, which is designed to attack Siemens designed control systems, was involved in the Fukushima disaster. It was alleged that Siemens equipment is used there, which I cannot verify, and it gets more speculative thereafter, but is an interesting problem. Malicious software and deliberate attacks targeting nuclear facilities makes nuclear’s claim to ‘safety’ even more dubious than ever.

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    “I’ve seen a few articles speculating on whether the Stuxnet worm, which is designed to attack Siemens designed control systems, was involved in the Fukushima disaster”

    The Stuxnet worm was found on the SCADA system last october, according to a quick google search. I doubt that Stuxnet had anything to do with the disaster, which was caused by the force of nature + unreliable technology + human error.

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    The World From Berlin
    Nuclear Disaster ‘Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11’,1518,750810,00.html

  30. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Prokaryotes #16. I understand (correctly?) that you saying that we don’t have to live a simple life because that is a good strategy to ‘sell’ behaviour change to Americans. But you still have to build the electric car and the washing machine.

    It just about makes me cry to see so much beautiful land, and habitat, dug up so people can have more stuff and quite unnecessary gimmicky appliances that chew up more electricity. I regard the domestic dishwasher as unnecessary for most households as well as an environmental disaster but the very worst is the airconditioner.

    It seems to have had the effect of lowering the temperature at which people feel ‘hot’. When I was a kid, people didn’t even use the word ‘hot’ until it got to 100F (37-38C). Now people whinge about being ‘hot’ when it gets to about 30C which is absolutely ridiculous in a country like Australia which regularly experiences extreme temperatures. To say nothing about the future.

    All our machines have consequences, sometimes quite unexpected, and many of them have made us less adaptable. Adaptability is something we are going to neeed in large quantities pretty soon and I just hope we are going to be up for it.

    After we’ve achieved 100% renewables, can we aim for a little more simplicity? ME

  31. Prokaryotes says:

    Merrelyn Emery, ” I understand (correctly?) that you saying that we don’t have to live a simple life because that is a good strategy to ’sell’ behaviour change to Americans. But you still have to build the electric car and the washing machine.”

    Yes, but we have to become more efficient and choose more wisely the technologies of choice. For example we need to recycle our waste and watch to clean up the environment we polluted within the 1st industrial revolution.

  32. Prokaryotes says:

    Can biochar help suppress greenhouse gases?

    Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas and a precursor to compounds that contribute to the destruction of the ozone. Intensively managed, grazed pastures are responsible for an increase in nitrous oxide emissions from grazing animals’ excrement. Biochar is potentially a mitigation option for reducing the world’s elevated carbon dioxide emissions, since the embodied carbon can be sequestered in the soil. Biochar also has the potential to beneficially alter soil nitrogen transformations.
    Laboratory tests have indicated that adding biochar to the soil could be used to suppress nitrous oxide derived from livestock. Biochar has been used for soil carbon sequestration in the same manner.
    In a study funded by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology,scientists at Lincoln University in New Zealand, conducted an experiment over an 86-day spring/summer period to determined the effect of incorporating biochar into the soil on nitrous oxide emissions from the urine patches produced by cattle. Biochar was added to the soil during pasture renovation and gas samples were taken on 33 different occasions. The study was published in the March/April 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.
    Addition of biochar to the soil allowed for a 70% reduction in nitrous oxide fluxes over the course of the study. Nitrogen contribution from livestock urine to the emitted nitrous oxide decreased as well. The incorporation of biochar into the soil had no detrimental effects on dry matter yield or total nitrogen content in the pasture.
    Arezoo Taghizadeh-Toosi who conducted the study, says that under the highest rate of biochar, ammonia formation and its subsequent adsorption onto or into the biochar, reduced the inorganic-nitrogen pool available for nitrifiers and thus nitrate concentrations were reduced. Such effects would have diminished the substrate available for microbial nitrous oxide producti

  33. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Prokaryotes #33. I agree and I guess that as we have to spend more and more of our incomes on staying alive, there will be less of a race to keep up with the Joneses by way of gadgets and stuff that nobody needs, at least for an increased proportion of us, ME

  34. Paulm says:

    @24 pork, I guess indies 90% poor will have to stay poop then…..

  35. S. Majumder says:

    #36 Paulm: I am from India … and we desperately a revolution here. The condition of bottom 90% (more like 98%, 70% below poverty line) is worse than poop.

  36. Joan Savage says:

    Regarding the S. Majumder (#15) comment, and reply by Prokaryotes (#16), I was formerly with the Prokaryotes sentiments, but I’m shifting, very very reluctantly.

    The progressive adaptations still generate a burden. The so-called 100% electric cars are derived from specialty mining and fossil fuel use, all before they can roll off the assembly line and be shipped by fossil-fuel operated vessel around the planet. The cars operate on roads made from asphalt or concrete, each material with significant carbon footprints.

    The extrication process needs to be more thorough.

  37. paulm says:

    #36 #38 That should have been ….
    Poor will have to stay poor….

  38. Robert In New Orleans says:

    Where is Bangladesh going to put its nuclear reactor if the sea level is rising?

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Joan Savage #39, you are correct. Electric cars are a good, in comparison to internal combustion, but we must walk, take public transport or bicycle ride wherever possible. Cars must be a last resort. Indeed, in cities and built-up areas, private car ownership is so negative that it ought, in my opinion, be banned. Transport by taxi for the old or unfit, or those in a hurry, otherwise ambulate or catch the electric bus, train or tram. If you are going on a country holiday, hire an electric car. The actions must be as radical as this, otherwise we are just wasting our time.

  40. Prokaryotes says:

    Re Joan Savage,

    there is a progress too, when it comes to transportation

    Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room Takes Aim at 60,000 Ships

    Branson’s nonprofit Carbon War Room this week announced the creation of, a site that ranks approximately 60,000 container ships, tankers, bulk carriers, cargo ships, cruise ships, and ferries with efficiency ratings.

    “The aim of our shipping operation is to catalyze a change to a profitable but truly sustainable industry,” says Peter Boyd, Chief Operations Officer of the Carbon War Room, in a statement. “Greater transparency of vessel efficiency and emissions is a vital element of the solution. We believe that rating clean and dirty ships will provide the market signals needed to remove barriers preventing capital flowing to clean technologies and make gigaton-scale reductions in emissions a real possibility.”

  41. paulm says:

    I think they are proposing a floating one Robert #41