Archive for July, 2009

New Zealand most peaceful nation on Earth

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

The 2009 Global Peace Index is out, and NZ leads the world!

The top ten is:

  1. New Zealand
  2. Denmark
  3. Norway
  4. Iceland
  5. Austria
  6. Sweden
  7. Japan
  8. Canada
  9. Finland
  10. Slovenia

Interesting how many of these top ten have violent pasts – Austria and Japan, and Slovenia more recently.

The bottom 10 are:

  1. Iraq
  2. Afghanistan
  3. Somalia
  4. Israel
  5. Sudan
  6. Congo
  7. Chad
  8. Pakistan
  9. Russia
  10. Zimbabwe


Climate ‘biggest health threat’

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Climate change is “the biggest global health threat of the 21st Century”, according to a leading medical journal.

The Lancet, together with University College London researchers, has published a report outlining how public health services will need to adapt.

It also highlights the consequences of climate-related mass migrations.

The authors aim to add their voice to the call for carbon mitigation and will focus on making clear the ways in which climate change will affect health.

University College London (UCL) climatologist Mark Maslin called it “the Stern report for medics”, referring to the 2006 review that outlined the future impacts of the climate change situation in economic terms and advocated comprehensive, early-stage action to address it.

“The medical profession has to wake up if we’re going to save billions of lives. This is why it’s in the Lancet – it is the only way to do this is working with medics and other professionals to get that message across,” Professor Maslin said.

“Being a climatologist and jumping up and down pulling my hair out and saying ‘we’re all going to die in a horrible way’ does not work.”


East Coast May Feel Rise in Sea Levels the Most

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Sea levels could rise faster along the U.S. East Coast than in any other densely populated part of the world, new research shows, as changes in ice caps and ocean currents push water toward a shoreline inlaid with cities, resort boardwalks and gem-rare habitats.

Three studies this year, including one out last month, have made newly worrisome forecasts about life along the Atlantic over the next century. While the rest of the world might see seven to 23 inches of sea-level rise by 2100, the studies show this region might get that and more — 17 to 25 inches more — for a total increase that would submerge a beach chair.


Up to 10,000 boat people ready to flee

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

CANBERRA – The arrival of the biggest boatload of asylum seekers since the new wave of illegal migrants began building late last year has again set alarm bells ringing in Australia.

As the 194 people migrants were being taken into detention on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, reports emerged of as many as 10,000 more waiting in Malaysia for their chance to risk a journey that has claimed dozens of lives.

While the Opposition blames the relaxation of the harsh detention regime of the former Coalition Government for the resurgence of boat people, evidence is mounting that laws passed in Canberra have limited deterrent effect.

International agencies support Government contentions that the upsurge in illegal voyages since late last year are largely the product of wars, persecution and poverty, and reflect larger, similar, movements into other rich nations.

Further studies have shown that tough messages from Australia are often ignored, misunderstood or not received by people desperate to find safety and security in a new home, and that “shonky” migration agents encourage others.


No Global Climate Change here! Gaakkk!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

hot-thermometerWe hit 103 F in Seattle today which beat the old record, I think by 7 degrees.  Here where we live, about 35 miles inland and to the north, we hit 107 F.

And all of this after Seattle had one of the worst winters in recorded history.

I know, I know, one Swallow doesn’t make a spring.    But, this stuff should make folks think.

Report: Climate change will force millions to move, prompting “tensions and violence”

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Flooded farmland has already forced thousands of Bangladeshis to higher ground, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of the numbers of people who will need to move because of climate change in the coming decade, according to a report released by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University, the United Nations University and CARE International today.

As climate change alters weather patterns—hastening desertification in some places and sopping others—increases the strength of natural disasters—from cyclones to landslides—and raises sea levels world wide, it will make many areas and livelihoods untenable, say the authors.

“Climate is the envelope in which all of us lead our daily lives,” Alexander de Sherbinin, a geographer at CIESIN, said in a statement. “This report sounds warning bells.”

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that by 2050, about 200 million people will have been uprooted by climate change.  A sea level rise of 3.28 feet (1 meter) could affect 23.5 million people on the low-lying Ganges, Mekong and Nile river deltas alone, according to the report.


North America faces beetle plague

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

A plague of tree-killing beetles which swept across British Columbia is threatening to spread to the US.

The mountain pine beetle has killed more than half of all lodge pole pine in the province and is now active in neighbouring Alberta.

Cold winters usually kill off the beetle larvae, but the region has been warmer than usual in recent years.

Scientists say the beetle could attack and kill jack pines, which are found throughout North America.


Deadly warning as tropics advance

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

CANBERRA – A widening of the world’s tropical belt that will turn Sydney’s climate into that of Brisbane will hammer Aboriginal communities and the poor nations of Asia and the Pacific, new studies warn.

The studies say there is already evidence that the tropics are moving further north and south in a trend that will also extend the range of sub-tropical climates, drying out present fertile regions with devastating effects on health and food production.

James Cook University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said tropical climates had already moved more than six degrees of latitude beyond the traditional confines of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and were continuing to expand.

About half the world’s population, including most of its poorest and least educated, lived in tropical climates that were also home to 80 per cent of plant and animal species, and which generated about 20 per cent of the planet’s wealth.

“It is in the tropics where we have new and dangerous diseases evolving and spreading,” Harding said.

“According to genetic studies, about 80 per cent of infectious diseases arise in the tropics, with many new illnesses resulting from viruses that jump from animals to humans.


Women flogged for wearing trousers

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

CAIRO – Sudanese police arrested 13 women in a raid on a cafe and flogged 10 of them in public for wearing trousers in violation of the country’s strict Islamic law, one of those arrested said.

The 13 women were at a cafe in the capital, Khartoum, when they were detained by officers from the public order police, which enforces the implementation of Sharia law in public places.

The force, which is similar to the Saudi religious police, randomly enforces an alcohol ban and often scolds young men and women mingling in public.

One of those arrested on Friday, journalist Lubna Hussein, said she is challenging the charges, which can be punishable by up to 40 lashes.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Hussein said.

Islamic Sharia law has been strictly implemented in Sudan since the ruling party came to power in a 1989 military coup.


Back in gear

Sunday, July 26th, 2009
When it rains, it pours

When it rains, it pours

The various things going on in my life; my New Zealand immigration, my pending divorce and my prostate cancer treatment are all tracking along in their slow ways.   As much as I’d like all of this to hurry up and come to some resolution so I can regroup and move on after the dust settles, it just isn’t going to happen any sooner than it is going to happen.

The divorce could be dropped, or it could finish as soon as the first week in October or it could drag on.   Time will tell.

The Prostate surgery is currently scheduled to happen on September 1st (or sooner, if I can grab a cancellation).   I’m going to go with a high-tech approach which you can read about here, if you are curious.

I currently am holding a ticket to New Zealand that has me flying out of LAX headed south on November 25th.

In the mean time, the world continues in its uneven progress and, in spite of the fact that I haven’t been Blogging on-topic since July 1st, I’ve still been reading the news via my RSS news Aggregator and setting aside appropriate articles for the theme of this Blog.

So, I’m going to resume posting stuff.   Maybe, it’ll keep me busy and help speed me through the rest of this stuff.

Don’t misunderstand the graphic, above.  I do feel like a bit of a lightening rod these days but I am not feeling sorry for myself.   All this stuff has purpose and meaning and it is mine alone to figure out what it is.

Cheers, my friends.