Friday, February 05, 2016

MarGeo Eco news (March 2016)

An organization comprising Peruvian Amazon communities plans to file a complaint against state-owned oil company Petroperu over a crude spill caused by a pipeline leak, the group's president told EFE Thursday.......Peru Indians to file complaint against state oil company over pipeline spill


  1. Great Barrier Reef hit by coral bleaching...

    Scientists warned that low level coral bleaching are occurring on Australia's Great Barrier Reef due to high sea surface temperatures, and it could be exacerbated if the area continues to experience still and calm conditions for the next few weeks.

    "Current reports of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef do not equate to a mass bleaching event, but we are concerned about a growing incidence of minor to moderate bleaching at multiple locations along the Reef as the peak of summer approaches," explained Prof. Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

    Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as heightened sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called "zooxanthellae". The loss of these colorful algae causes the corals to turn white, and "bleach". Bleached corals can recover if the temperature drops and zooxanthellae are able to recolonise them, otherwise the coral may die.

    "The latest Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasts suggest that we could see significant above average temperatures through the month of March, which may mean more bleaching ahead for corals on the Great Barrier Reef unless we get some windy and cloudy weather soon," said Dr Janice Lough, senior principal research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and member of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce.

  2. Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth Wednesday after an unprecedented year in space for NASA, landing in barren Kazakhstan with a Russian cosmonaut who shared his whole space station journey...

    Their Soyuz capsule parachuted onto the central Asian steppes and ended a science-rich mission at the International Space Station that began last March and was deemed a steppingstone to Mars.

    It was a triumphant homecoming for Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko after 340 days in space. Kelly pumped his fist as he emerged from the capsule, then gave a thumbs-up. He smiled and chatted with his doctors and others as photographers crushed around him in the freezing cold.

    "The air feels great out here," NASA spokesman at the scene, Rob Navias, quoted Kelly as saying. "I have no idea why you guys are all bundled up."

    Clearly animated and looking well, he said he didn't feel much different than he did after his five-month station mission five years ago.

    Kelly and Kornienko had checked out of the space station 3½ hours earlier. In total, they traveled 144 million miles through space, circled the world 5,440 times and experienced 10,880 orbital sunrises and sunsets during the longest single spaceflight by an

  3. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of western Indonesia, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reports...

    There have been no immediate reports of damage.

    The USGS said the earthquake struck at 19:49 local time (12:49 GMT). It said the epicentre was 808km (502 miles) southwest of the city of Padang, and 10km deep.

    Indonesian officials issused a tsunami warning for the regions of West Sumatra, North Sumatra and Aceh.

  4. SpaceX launches satellite, drone ship landing fails again...

    U.S. space firm SpaceX successfully sent Friday evening a European commercial communications satellite into space, but failed again in an attempt to softland the spent first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

    About one hour after launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted: "Rocket landed hard on the droneship. Didn't expect this one to work ... but next flight has a good chance."

    The failure was not a surprise as the California-based firm itself had little hope for the rocket recovery test, part of the company's efforts to produce a fully and rapidly reusable rocket.

    SpaceX said a reusable rocket will dramatically reduce the cost of space transport. Traditionally, rockets are designed for a single use only, burning up or crashing into the ocean after liftoff......

  5. China will build a second railway line connecting restive and remote Tibet with others parts of China that will link Tibetan capital Lhasa with the southwestern city of Chengdu, the government said on Saturday...

    Tibet is a highly sensitive region, not just because of continued opposition by many Tibetans to Chinese control, but because of the region's strategic position next to neighbors India, Nepal and Myanmar.

    In 2006, China opened the railway to Lhasa, which passes spectacular icy peaks on the Tibetan highlands, reaching altitudes as high as 5,000 m (16,400 ft) above sea level, as part of government development efforts.

    Critics of the railway, including exiled Tibetans and rights groups, say it has spurred an influx of long-term migrants who threaten Tibetans' cultural integrity, which rests on Buddhist beliefs and a traditional herding lifestyle.

    The new railway was announced in a draft of China's new five-year development plan released at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament and carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

    It gave no other details.

    Xinhua said it will take about 15 hours for trains to travel between Lhasa and Chengdu...Reuters..

  6. Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the banks of a polluted lake in India's southern technology hub of Bangalore...

    V. Purushottam, president of a residents' group, says people spotted the dead fish floating in Ulsoor Lake on Monday in a residential district.

    Purshottam says sewage from many parts of the city has been flowing into the lake, depleting oxygen levels in the water.

    Kiran Kumar, an environmentalist, says water samples are being collected for testing.

    Purshottam says authorities have ignored pleas to repair a barrier that is supposed to keep sewage from flowing into the lake.

    India has some of the world's most polluted air. More than half of its 1.2 billion people still defecate in the open, causing rivers and lakes to stink with sewage.

  7. Six Killed as 5-Storey Building Collapses in Lagos...

    Authorities said six people were killed when a five-storey building collapsed on Tuesday in downtown Lagos. Local media reports said the building was under construction and it crumbled at around 4:30 a.m. (local time) during a thunder storm and heavy downpours.

    According to Ibrahim Farinloye, the Public Relations Officer with the National Emergency Management Agency in the South West Region, six perished in the collapse while six others were rescued by emergency workers. He added that search and rescue operations are ongoing.

    1. Official said 30 people have now died in the collapse of a five-story building under construction in Lagos...

      A total of 12 bodies were recovered since rescuers resumed work on Wednesday morning. Those rescued alive still stands at 13. Building collapses happen frequently in Lagos. Lack of official oversight and poor workmanship and materials are often the causes of building collapses. The State Government has consequently directed the suspension of work at the site and ordered the Lagos State Police Command to cordon it off as it is now a crime scene.

  8. World Bank to give Uruguay $3.8 mn to control deforestation...

    A $3.8 million grant from the World Bank will support efforts to control deforestation in Uruguay, Economy Minister Danilo Astori said.

    "For Uruguay, which is giving increasing importance to the environment and climate change mitigation, this program will enable the country to join the rest of the world, which is concerned about this issue," Astori said.

  9. Japon: citant les leçons de Fukushima, la justice ordonne l'arrêt de réacteurs nucléaires...

    Un tribunal japonais a ordonné mercredi pour des raisons de sûreté l'arrêt de deux réacteurs nucléaires à peine relancés, appuyant son jugement sur les leçons tirées de l'accident de Fukushima survenu il y a cinq ans.

    Sont visées par cette décision de justice les unités 3 et 4 de la centrale de Takahama (ouest), qui ont pourtant obtenu les feux verts techniques et politiques pour redémarrer.

    "A la lumière de l'accident de Fukushima (...) il reste des interrogations sur les mesures de protection vis-à-vis d'un tsunami et concernant les plans d'évacuation", a souligné le juge, selon des propos rapportés par la chaîne publique NHK.

    "On ne peut pas dire que la compagnie ait fourni suffisamment d'explications sur le plan de la sûreté", a estimé le juge.

    Les plaignants, un groupe de 29 personnes de la préfecture de Shiga, contiguë à celle de Fukui où se trouvent les réacteurs de Takahama, ont crié leur joie devant les caméras à la sortie du tribunal, brandissant des banderoles où l'on pouvait lire "nous sommes très heureux et saluons le courage du jury".

    "C'est une victoire qui fera date", a déclaré Hisayo Takada, un responsable de l'organisation écologiste Greenpeace au Japon, ajoutant que "le tribunal adresse ainsi un message clair au secteur nucléaire, une semaine après la décision de traduire en justice des ex-dirigeants de la compagnie exploitante de la centrale de Fukushima pour négligence professionnelle ayant entraîné l'accident" de mars 2011...AFP...

  10. Oklahoma has unveiled new measures this week aimed at reducing a massive recent rise in earthquakes apparently linked to the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a controversial technique for extracting trapped petroleum or natural gas from a shale formation...

    The new program, a continuation of actions the Oklahoma Corporation Commission announced at the start of 2016, will require a 40 percent reduction - relative to 2014 - in the underground injection of wastewater at 400 wells spread out over an area of 13,000 sq. kilometers (5,020 sq. miles) in the central part of the state.

  11. Japan marks 5th anniversary of quake, tsunami disaster with moment of silence...

    Japan paused on Friday to mark five years since an offshore earthquake spawned a monster tsunami that left about 18,500 people dead or missing along its northeastern coast and sparked the worst nuclear disaster in a quarter century.

    Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other participants at a national ceremony in Tokyo bowed their heads as did many residents across the affected region at 2:46 pm (0546 GMT) -- the exact moment on March 11, 2011 the magnitude 9.0 quake struck under the Pacific Ocean.

    The massive earthquake unleashed a giant wall of water that swallowed schools and entire neighborhoods, with unforgettable images spreading around the world of panicked residents fleeing to higher ground and vehicles and ships bobbing in the swirling waters of flooded towns.....

  12. A rainstorm that lashed this Brazilian metropolis and its suburbs left at least 15 dead, a dozen injured and several cities flooded, authorities announced Friday...

    Four people died in the town of Mairipora including a little boy, while another seven were injured in a mudslide Thursday night on a hill where several houses were being built.

  13. 2 killed, 3 missing, over 3,000 displaced in flood in Indonesia...

    Floods hitting Indonesia's West Java province have killed three people, left three others missing and forced more than 3,000 others to flee homes, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of national disaster management agency, told Xinhua by phone on Sunday.

  14. Astronomers identify four new giant exoplanets...

    Astronomers have identified four new exoplanets circling stars more massive than the sun. The giants range in size from 2.4 to 5.5 times the mass of Jupiter, with orbital periods ranging from two to four years.

    Scientists found the planets among stellar observations collected by pair of telescopes in Chile. The data were confirmed using a telescope in Australia.

  15. The European Commission announced on Tuesday the European Union (EU) released 10 million euros (11.1 million US dollars) for research on the Zika virus, currently affecting large parts of Latin America...

    The most affected country is Brazil, where the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the recent cluster of severe brain malformations in newborns may be linked to the virus.

    While the risk of transmission of the Zika virus in the EU is low, there is currently no treatment or vaccine against the virus, and diagnostic tests for infections are not widely available.

    The funding comes from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation funding program, and would go into projects aiming to prove the link between the virus and severe brain malformations reported in newborn children.

    If proven, researchers could then move on to combating the Zika virus, including developing diagnostics and testing potential treatments or vaccines.

    "A number of EU citizens have returned from the affected areas with the Zika virus. The Commission is carefully monitoring the situation and, as the summer approaches, is working closely together with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, WHO and member states to put in place all necessary measures to ensure that the response to the virus is coherent and well-coordinated," said Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

    The funding would also complement a number of other research initiatives currently funded under Horizon 2020 that can aid in the fight against Zika, according to the commission.

  16. Mexico City Bans 1.1 Million Cars in First Smog Alert in 11 Years ...

    Authorities banned more than 1 million cars from the roads and offered free subway and bus rides to coax people from their vehicles as Mexico City's first air pollution alert in 11 years stretched into a third day Wednesday.

    Officials advised people to limit outdoor activity due to high ozone levels that were nearly double acceptable limits in the sprawling capital, which lies in a high-altitude valley ringed by smog-trapping volcanic mountains.

    Amid a muddy brown haze, some residents covered their mouths with scarves or paper masks as they moved through the streets. Some schools kept kids indoors during recess.

    Environment Secretary Alejandro Pacchiano said if conditions don't improve, further measures may be considered such as suspending industrial activity at factories......

  17. An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale struck off the Atka Island in southwest Alaska, the northern most US state...

    Alaska Earthquake Center said the quake hit at 17:35 local time (0135 GMT), some 74 km south of the Atka Island in the Andreanof Islands, which are part of the Aleutian Islands.

    The center, at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, said the tremor originated from about 3.6 km deep.

    It was followed by at least two aftershocks, magnitude 2.7 and 1.6 respectively, in less than 30 minutes thereafter.

    There have been no reports of injuries or damage as the islands are sparsely populated and the epicenter is more than 1,800 km from Anchorage, the biggest city in Alaska.

    Earthquakes are frequent along the Aleutian arc, which extends approximately 3,000 km from the Gulf of Alaska in the east to the Kamchatka Peninsula in the west.....

  18. US astronaut, 2 Russian cosmonauts arrive at international space station...

    A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying a NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, ending a nearly six-hour flight, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

    US astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:26 p.m. EDT (2126 GMT) and reached the station at 11:09 p.m. EDT (0309 GMT).

    They replace a crew that ended a nearly year-long flight earlier this month....jpost by Reuters

  19. Mekong Drought Worsens Amid Doubts Over Lao Promises ...

    Drought in Southeast Asia is raising concerns in the Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside where salinity levels are rising in the Mekong River and people are skeptical about fresh promises from Laos that it will respect the rights of downstream countries in dam construction.

    The reassurances from Vientiane were delivered by Bounhang Vorachith, who was recently named secretary-general of the Laos Communist Party, sparking hopes he might show a more conciliatory approach to negotiations with countries who share use of the Mekong River.

    “Laos will make an effort to ensure that there will be no impact,” Bounhang recently told the Cambodia government in regards to Vientaine’s plans to build 11 dams along the Mekong River and their impact on neighboring countries.

    He also reminded Prime Minister Hun Sen that Laos had studied the potential impact of the dams and promised to limit the impact of the controversial Don Sahong hydropower dam, The Phnom Penh Post reported, to be built just north of the Cambodian border.......

  20. 2 Chinese jailed 30 years in Tanzania for smuggling ivory ...

    A local court in Tanzania has sentenced two Chinese nationals to 30 years in prison for illegal hunting and trading in ivory, local newspaper The Citizen reported on March 19, 2016.

    The Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court found 31-year old Xu Fujie and 51-year old Huang Jin guilty of illegally possessing 706 pieces of elephant tusks.

    The pair are also facing a fine equivalent to around US$50 million.

    Lawyers for the two are reportedly planning to launch an appeal.

    It's being described as one of the most serious sentences handed down for smuggling ivory ever in Tanzania.

    The sentencing comes just months after a Chinese woman was also charged with smuggling ivory in Tanzania.

    Yang Fenglan, who has been dubbed the 'Queen of Ivory,' is accused of trafficking millions of dollars worth of elephant tusks.

    She is still awaiting trial.

  21. Schools in two northern Malaysian states are to be temporarily closed from Tuesday (March 22) until Wednesday after a punishing heatwave pushed temperatures above 37°C for more than three consecutive days, the Malaysian Education Ministry announced on Monday...

    “The closures are a precautionary measure to protect the health of students during the hot weather,” said the education ministry in a statement, adding that the temporary school closures in the states of Kedah and Perlis, both located along the border with Thailand, would involve 853 schools and 413,786 students.

    The ministry also stressed that the school closures – believed to be the first of its kind in the country due to an unprecedented heatwave – would only involve students, while teachers and school staff were still required to go to work.

    Speaking to reporters on Monday, the country’s Education Minister, Mahdzir Khalid, said that it would be decided on Wednesday if the schools are to remain closed due to the extremely hot weather – which has been largely blamed on the El Nino weather phenomenon.....

  22. China's sea level rises faster than global average ...

    China's average annual rise in sea level from 1980 to 2015 was 3 millimeters, higher than the global average, according to a report released by the State Oceanic Administration on Tuesday.

    The decade between 2006 and 2015 saw the fastest rise of the past 30 years, with the mean sea level increasing by 32 millimeters and 66 millimeters, respectively, compared with the figures from the 1996-2005 period and 1986-1995 period, said the report.

    The report stated that thermal expansion of seawater and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets on land due to global warming contribute to the accelerated rise in global sea level.

    China has seen its air and seawater temperatures increase due to climate change, along with lower air pressure in coastal regions, resulting in rising sea levels, according to the report.

    Statistics showed that China's sea level drops during El Nino weather patterns. The sea level in 2015 was down by 21 millimeters from 2014 due to a strong El Nino that affected the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean.

    The report also suggested authorities take sea-level rises into consideration when planning coastal cities to ensure safety and effective disaster prevention and relief efforts......

  23. Some flights at London's Gatwick Airport have been diverted due to high winds battering much of Britain...

    Four flights were unable to land early Monday morning because of winds associated with Storm Katie.

    Britain's Met Office said winds of 87 mph (140 kph) had been reported on the Isle of Wight and winds of 77 mph (124 kph) hit the British mainland on the west coast.

    Several highway bridges were closed as a precaution. Wind warnings were issued for London and parts of southeastern England. There was heavy rain in part of northern England and Wales.

    In Brittany, in western France, 35,000 customers have lost power because of the storm, according to regional power grid official Bernard Laurans, who spoke to French news channel iTele.

  24. The U.S. Joint Space Operations Center on Sunday said it has spotted five objects floating near Japan’s brand new Hitomi X-ray astronomy satellite that lost communication with Earth the previous day...

    In a Twitter post, the center, which tracks objects in orbit, said it identified five pieces of “break up” debris in the vicinity of the satellite.

    Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said it is not known whether the Hitomi was struck by space debris and destroyed or whether minor pieces of it were knocked off.

    The satellite is supposed to be orbiting about 580 km above Earth. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is trying to confirm its condition.

    Hitomi, jointly developed with NASA and other concerns, has four X-ray telescopes and two gamma-ray detectors that are supposed to shed light on the mysteries of the universe, including black holes, which are difficult to observe directly because they emit no

  25. Alaska volcano calming after eruption; alert downgraded...

    The activity level of an Alaska volcano has declined after the mountain erupted with a massive ash cloud that prompted the cancellation of dozens of flights.

    The U.S. Geological Survey said in a news release late Monday night that the intensity of the eruption had "declined significantly."

    Pavlof Volcano, one of Alaska's most active volcanoes, is 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula, the finger of land that sticks out from mainland Alaska toward the Aleutian Islands.

    The volcano in the 8,261-foot mountain erupted about 4 p.m. Sunday, spitting out an ash cloud that rose to 20,000

  26. Firefighters extinguished a blaze Tuesday that burned up the side of several towers in the United Arab Emirates city of Ajman, the latest in a series of skyscraper infernos in the Gulf nation, which is home to the world's tallest building...

    Civil defense workers sprayed water to cool down any remaining embers at the Ajman One development. The city is home to many commuters who work in the Gulf commercial hub of Dubai, further to the south.

    The complex, developed for an estimated $720 million by Aqaar, includes 12 residential towers. Two sustained severe damage to their exteriors, while others appeared to have light damage.

    The cause for the blaze, which began Monday night, wasn't immediately clear. Civil defense officials declined to comment, while telephone numbers for Aqaar rang unanswered

  27. Japan regulators OK costly ice wall at Fukushima plant...

    Japanese regulators have approved an unprecedented refrigeration structure to be switched on so it would form a huge underground frozen barrier around the wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactor buildings in a desperate bid to mitigate the contaminated water.

    Regulators said Wednesday the structure, whose construction was completed last month, can now be activated.

    Nearly 800,000 tons of water is stored at the plant destroyed in the 2011 quake and tsunami, hampering its decontamination.

    The 35 billion yen ($312 million) government-funded project comes with pipes designed to freeze soil around them like giant popsicles, eventually forming a 1.5-kilometer (0.9 mile) long wall around the reactor and turbine buildings to contain radioactive water and keep out groundwater.


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